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a non-denial denial

A statement that seems 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. Talk about a non-denial denial. He clearly had a relationship with this woman—now, what exactly was the nature of it? Look, if you don't comment on this, but you also don't deny it, it'll come off like a non-denial denial, and people will think it's true.
See also: denial

de minimis non curat lex

From Latin, meaning "the law does not care about the smallest things," a legal principle asserting that trivial matters are not worthy of judicial scrutiny. They want to drag our entire company to court because of a scratch on their car that they allege was caused by one of our machines. I implore the court to acknowledge that this clearly falls under the doctrine of de minimis non curat lex.
See also: DE, lex, minimis, 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.
See also: go

ignorantia juris non excusat

Latin for "ignorance of the law does not excuse," the legal principle that being ignorant of a law does not excuse a person from liability should they break it. The defendant claims that he made the payments without realizing they constituted embezzlement. The prosecution is expected to put forward an ignorantia juris non excusat argument in response.
See also: excusat, ignorantia, non

illegitimi non carborundum

A humorous pseudo-Latin expression meant to translate as "don't let the bastards grind you down," meaning do not succumb to the oppressive influence of others. "Carborundum" is another name for silicon carbide, the synthetic form of which has been used as an abrasive since the late 19th century. You've got to have thick skin and nerves of steel to make it in this industry. Just remember—illegitimi non carborundum! The protestors stood outside Capitol Hill, many with signs reading, "Illegitimi non carborundum."

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

lucus a non lucendo

An illogical or absurd etymology, explanation, or derivation. From Latin, literally meaning "a grove does not shine," from the ancient grammatical hypothesis that the Latin word for "grove" is lucus because light does not shine there, a non lucendo. The politician's explanation for how his proposal would be funded is exactly the type of lucus a non lucendo he's been known for throughout this election.
See also: non

non bis in idem

From Latin, literally, "not twice in the same," a legal doctrine which holds that legal action cannot be taken twice against someone for the same offense, a concept more commonly known as "double jeopardy." Yes, I know there's new evidence linking the chief financial officer to the embezzlement scheme, but he's already been tried for that. If we bring this new evidence against him now, the judge will toss it out on the ground of the "non bis in idem" principle.
See also: bis, idem, non

non compos (mentis)

Not sane or mentally competent. The phrase is Latin for "not of sound mind." Based on the orders he's been giving lately, many believe him to be non compos. The judge ruled that she had been non compos mentis at the time, and thus could not be held legally liable.
See also: compo, non

non compos poopoo

slang Extremely drunk. A faux Latinism probably modeled on the real Latin phrase "non compos mentis," meaning not sane or mentally competent. There's no way I'm letting you drive home when you're this non compos poopoo.
See also: compo, non, poopoo

non est factum

From Latin, literally, "it is not one's deed," a defense in contract law that seeks to allow the signing party to avoid performing the agreement within the contract because it was substantially misrepresented to the defendant or misrepresentative of their intent. Mr. Daniels, you cannot invoke a non est factum plea simply because you failed to read all relevant documents pertaining to your loan agreement with the bank. It was subsequently discovered that the primary signatory had been unduly coerced to sign the financial guarantee, and in normal circumstances would have no business being involved in such an agreement. This is why we're pursuing a non est factum defense.
See also: EST, non

non illegitimi carborundum

A humorous pseudo-Latin expression meant to translate as "don't let the bastards grind you down," meaning do not succumb to the oppressive influence of others. "Carborundum" is another name for silicon carbide, the synthetic form of which has been used as an abrasive since the late 19th century. You've got to have thick skin and nerves of steel to make it in this industry. Just remember—non illegitimi carborundum! The protestors stood outside Capitol Hill, many with signs reading, "Non Illegitimi Carborundum."

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

non-apology apology

A statement that shares qualities with a typical apology but lacks admission of wrongdoing or an indication of remorse. Often used in public relations. I don't think he's sorry at all. I mean, come on—"I'm sorry you feel that way" is a classic non-apology apology.
See also: apology


Describing a person who does not identify as exclusively male or exclusively female, or describing such a gender identity. Even though I look like a woman, my experience of gender has always been nonbinary.


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.

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"; its plural is personae non gratae. 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

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

vel non

From Latin, literally "or not," used in law in reference to an issue that may or may not exist. In this case, the court will consider the culpability vel non of the governor's office in the taxation scandal.
See also: non, vel
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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).
See also: go
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

non compos

Crazy; mentally incapacitated and therefore unable to be responsible for one’s speech or actions. This term is an abbreviation of the Latin non compos mentis, literally translated as “not master of one’s mind,” or “not of sound mind.” It dates from the seventeenth century and today is loosely used for irrational behavior, as well as surviving in legal terminology.
See also: compo, non

persona non grata

An undesirable individual; a person out of favor. The term persona grata is Latin for “an acceptable person” and was used to describe diplomats acceptable to the government to which they were accredited. When such a person was, for some reason, no longer acceptable, he or she became persona non grata and would have to be recalled. From the late nineteenth century on, however, the term was also used more loosely for someone who had gotten in trouble or simply was disliked. The OED cites a 1958 issue of the Oxford Mail: “The BMC management should have known that the introduction of two or three people who are persona non grata with the other 350 men in the shop would create difficulty.”
See also: non
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

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
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
43v: "Vendetta non e fu mai uficio di Dio, ma del dimonia;" Predica 19, lines 109-10: "Sai in che sta ora la gloria de fiorentini?
See also Alberti, 1969, 223 (where cosmetics are discussed as a mask of truth lending woman an air of dishonesty); Giraldi Cinzio, 96 (presents an ironic view of cosmetics: in trying to please, women displease by concealing their natural beauty); and Piccolomini, 22-23 (cosmetics as a mask is satirized through a "Madonna Giachetta" whose make-up had dried out so that she had to "stare interizita e non voltar la testa se non con tutta la persona insieme, accioche la mascara non si fendesse").
64 Vasari, 7:447: "Dopo partiti che furono da lui, ragionandosi del fare di Tiziano, il Buonarruoto lo comendo assai, dicendo che molto gli piaceva il colorito suo e la maniera; ma che era un peccato che a Vinezia non s'imparasse da principio a disegnare bene, e che non avessono que' pittori miglior modo nello studio.
In the context of defining ritrarre and imitare, Vincenzo Danti wrote: "Laonde si vede che Titiano ha dipinto alle molte figure di femine bellissime, & alle volte non cosi belle, secondo, che ha favti corpi belli da ritrarre, come quello, che procedeva solo per la via del ritrarre."
69 Vasari, 5:584: "Ma essendo pur sollecitato, egli [Michelangelo] finalmente disse che non voleva farla [the Last Judgment] se non a fresco, e che il colorire a olio era arte da donna e da persone aggiate et infingarde, come fra' Bastiano." The 1550 edition reads: "Disse che non la voleva fare se non a fresco, che il colorire a olio era arte da donna."
93 Cozzando, 122: "E se non s'havesse lasciato corrompere la sua prima maniera di lavorare da lisci, e politezze amate dalle Monache (alle quali percio servi assai) sarebbe senza dubbio riuscito Pittore eccellente.
94 Orlandi, 268: "Se non avesse cangiato la sua prima maniera forte, e caricata, in una quasi minuta, e lisciata, per compiacere con tal dolcezza alle Monache, per le quali dipinse varie Madonne, e quadri, per certo meritava."
For examples of liscio in pictorial technique as a highly reflective (and hence masking) surface, see Franchi, 93: "Se detti corpi, illuminati dal lume primario, sono di superficie liscie e tersa, e vicini allo scuro de' corpi, in cui reflettono le reflessioni, che pro-ducono in essi, sono assai simili alla chiarezza, e al colore de' detti corpi illuminati; ma quanto piu questi corpi illuminati son di superficie non liscia, orozza, e lontani dello scuro de i detti corpi, tanto piu tali reflessioni riescono languide e dilatate." And Lana, 1670, 155-56: "quando il lume ferisce un corpo liscio, e lustro, lo mostra molto piu chiaro di quello che faccia un altro corpo meno lustro, e polito.
Enata nobile, di degnissimi parent), ma non havendo dote uguale alla nascita, bisogna o che degradi della sue condizione o che avventuri agl'incommodi della poverta.
It is interesting to note that the Senate's resistance in this case resulted in a compromise: a successive report notes that though Venetian convents will be subject to inspection, "it is not planned to make the rules any tighter than they have been in the past" ("non si pretende di ridurle a maggior strettezza di quella che sono solite di servare").
(79) See Tarabotti, 1990, 53, for the suggestion that many nuns, "because they have taken the veil under constraint, live in an utterly secular manner and show no inclination to observe those restrictions to which they have not consented in their hearts" ("per che sono coperte di quegli habit) a forza, vivono alla secolaresca ne s'intendono punto ad osservare quello a che l'anima non concorre").
(83) Fonte, 1988, 28-29: [Cornelia] "Quanti padri sono che non provedono mai alle lor figliuole vivendo ed al fin morendo lasciano il tutto, o la maggior parse delle loro sostanze a' mascoli .
(86) Valier, 1744, xxi: "Tra i molti benefizi che dalla divina e large mano di Dio deve riconoscer l'eta rostra, questo non e il minore, che ha svegliato e rinnovato lo spirito della santa Verginita (oltre il modo comune de' Monasteri) sotto l'invocazione e protezione di Sant'Orsola, gloriosa Vergine e Martire." Giolito's letter was originally published as a foreword to a Trattato del D.
(87) Ibid., xxii: "essendo la prima lode, e il primo grado di Verginita, di queue che in perpetua clausura si consacrano a Dio, si trovano pero molte giovani che sentendosi ispirate ad osservar Verginita, non possono tutte entrar ne' Monasteri, chi per mancamento di dote sufficiente, chi per non volersi obbligare a perpetua Clausura, chi per non potervi avere quegli aiuti spiritual) che sono necessari .
(88) Ibid., xxii-xxiii: "Non doveria avere a caro ogni Padre di famiglia con poche facolta, o con molte figliuole, che (non potendo maritarle tutte, ne anche monacarle e quando teen l'uno e l'altro potesse), si fosse un terzo Stato lodevole, nel quale quelle chi si sentissero a cio disposte, potessero, senza note, nella propria case servire a Dio in Verginita, e insieme aiutar la madre, e le cognate ad allevare i figliuoli nel timor di Dio, e a governar teen la case?" Giolito goes on to suggest other ways in which unmarried women may be of service to the community: teaching Christian doctrine in girls' schools, helping in women's hospitals and other charitable foundations and, in later life, assisting in the administration of charity.
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