Meaning of “not” in the English Dictionary

american-english dictionary

"not" in British English

See all translations

notadverb

uk /nɒt/ us /nɑːt/

A1 used to form a negative phrase after verbs like "be", "can", "have", "will", "must", etc., usually used in the short form "n't" in speech:

He's not fat!
I won't tell her.
I can't go.
Don't you like her?
It isn't hard (= it is easy).
I'm just not interested.
He's not bad-looking (= he is fairly attractive).
He's not as tall as his father.

A1 used to give the next word or group of words a negative meaning:

I told you not to do that.
I like most vegetables but not cabbage.
"Come and play, Dad." "Not now, Jamie."
It was Yuko who said that, not Richard.

A2 used after verbs like "be afraid", "hope", "suspect", etc. in short, negative replies:

"Is he coming with us?" "I hope not."
"Are you done?" "I'm afraid not."
if not

A2 used to say what the situation will be if something does not happen:

I hope to see you there but, if not, I'll call you.
or not

A2 used to express the possibility that something might not happen:

Are you going to reply or not?
I still don't know whether she's coming or not.

humorous sometimes used at the end of a statement to show that you did not mean what you have said:

That was the best meal I've ever had - not!

More examples

Grammar

(Definition of “not” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"not" in American English

See all translations

used to make a word or group of words negative, or to give a word or words an opposite meaning:

Her life was not happy.
If it’s not yours, whose is it?
He’s not bad-looking (= He is attractive).
She was not only an excellent teacher but (also) a brilliant researcher (= she was both these things).
Not that I mind (= I do not mind), but why didn’t you call yesterday?
not-too-distant

Not-too-distant refers to a time in the near future or recent past:

They plan to have children in the not-too-distant future.

(Definition of “not” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)