Sometimes, a dictionary definition doesn’t really come close to communicating the full meaning of a word. Take the word NO for example. Two little letters. Two powerful little letters.
According to Dictionary.com:
no a negative used to express dissent, denial, or refusal, as in response to a question or request
To be fair, that is only part of the definition they give. But even the entire listing doesn’t really cover all the different kinds of no.
There is the NO! when the puppy is about to chew one of your shoes. There is the No that goes with Thank You when the waiter offers you another beverage refill. There is the Nooooooo you howl as you watch the football slip through the wide receiver’s outstretched hands. There is the “no, huh?” when you hold up a silk dress and old hiking boots for your roommate’s opinion.
There is the no that means “duh,” the no that means “not exactly,” the no that means “not yet,” and the no that means “never gonna happen.”
There is the finality of the no of “absolutely not” and the exasperated NO of “I’m pretty sure I told you No More Chocolate about a thousand times already.” There is the teasing no? when you are talking with a 4 year old and pretending you don’t know how to count. There is the no? that means Don’t You Agree as in “These are lovely tulips, no?” There is the no of disbelief when you’ve been told a surprising piece of news.
There is Just Say No and No Means No and No Way, Dude! There is the No to put an end to all conversation and the more gentle No Can Do.
There is the no that just pops out of our mouth (sometimes bypassing the brain entirely) and the no we think about, agonize over.
There are noes that aren’t going to offend anyone and noes when protecting feelings isn’t on your priority list and noes that you go out of your way to make soft and kind. Then there’s the nose that’s on your face, but that’s entirely different.
Here’s hoping any No you encounter today is of the gentle variety.