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a non-denial denial

A statement that seems and/or is intended to act as a direct denial to an allegation, but which, when taken literally or examined closely, does not deny the allegation at all. The phrase is most commonly associated with evasive answers of politicians facing scrutiny or accusations of misconduct. When pressed by journalists over certain large, undisclosed expenditures he had recently made, the senator gave a classic non-denial denial of any wrongdoing, stating ambiguously that any such spending was simply associated with the running of his campaign.
See also: denial

lex dubia non obligat

A Latin phrase that frees one from a contract or other legal obligation that is not morally sound. In English, the phrase means "a dubious law is not binding." As your lawyer, I think we should absolutely take them to court—the terms of this contract are unethical. Lex dubia non obligat!
See also: lex, non


1. An issue, topic, or person that makes no progress or shows little evidence of future success. I know you worked really hard on that proposal, but it's a non-starter—the committee refuses to even consider it. You want to be a doctor? Boy, that's a non-starter—you can't even handle the sight of blood! I wouldn't have too much faith in Bobby—he's a nonstarter, and this business will probably just become another in a long line of failures for him.
2. sports One who does not start the game or race. This phrase is often used in horse racing. I watched the race—what happened to our horse? Why was he a non-starter? I may be a non-starter now, but my goal is to supplant the first-string quarterback in time.

non sequitur

A statement that does not logically fit into the current conversation. Good luck getting answers from him—his every response to my questions so far has been a non sequitur. A: "I changed the oil in the car." B: "Well, that's a complete non sequitur, since I asked if you were hungry!"
See also: non, sequitur

sine qua non

A necessary, essential, or required element. The Latin phrases translates literally to "without which not." Some consider a good education to be the sine qua non of a successful career.
See also: non, qua, sine

persona non grata

A person who has been totally disowned or is no longer acceptable or welcome, especially in or to a foreign government. From Latin, literally meaning "an unacceptable person." Following the president's orders, the members of the foreign embassy were declared personae non gratae. Due to his ties to the extremist group, the senator has become a persona non grata among politicians.
See also: non

go non-linear

To become energetic or agitated by something, often an interest that one has. You know grandpa loves talking about the weather, so don't ask him about it unless you want to hear him go non-linear.

sine qua non

An essential element or condition, as in A perfect cake is the since qua non of a birthday party. This phrase is Latin for "without which not" and has been used in English since about 1600. It appears more in writing than in speech.
See also: non, qua, sine

go non-linear

become very excited or angry, especially about a particular obsession. informal
This expression may have originated as a humorous play on the phrase go off the rails (see rail).

perˌsona non ˈgrata

(from Latin) a person who is not welcome in a particular place because of something they have said or done: Persona non grata in Hollywood, Jake moved to New York to try and make a living on the stage.
The meaning of non grata is ‘not pleasing’.
See also: non

a ˌnon ˈsequitur

(from Latin, formal) a statement that does not seem to follow what has just been said in any natural or logical way: In the middle of a discussion about the weather, Liz started talking about fish. Everyone ignored the non sequitur completely.
The Latin phrase means ‘it does not follow’.
See also: non, sequitur

a sine qua ˈnon (of/for something)

/%sIneI kwA: "n@Un; American English "noUn/ (from Latin, formal) something that is essential before you can achieve something else: Many people believe that grammar is the sine qua non of language learning.
In Latin, this means ‘without which not’.
See also: non, qua, sine

non compos

(ˈnɑn ˈkɑmpos)
1. mod. out of one’s mind; non compos mentis. She is strictly non compos!
2. and non compos poopoo mod. alcohol intoxicated. That gal isn’t just drunk. She’s non compos poopoo.
See also: compo, non

non compos poopoo

See also: compo, non, poopoo

sine qua non

Essential part. As translated from the Latin, “Without which, there would be nothing,” the phrase is an erudite way to describe that which is indispensable or basic.
See also: non, qua, sine