grammatical expression: not on your life


I have a nice, short entry for you today for this week’s grammatical expression: “not on your life”. This is used as a response to a question, and it is used to mean that we or someone else would never agree to do something. For example:

A: Do you think Eric will come dancing with us tonight?

B: Not on your life. He hates dancing!


A: Do you think your father will let us borrow his car?

B: Not on your life! He never lets me borrow it!


A: Would you like to try bungee jumping?

B: Not on your life! I would be way too scared to do that!


A: How about having Korean food this weekend?

B: Not on your life! I can’t stand spicy food!


A: I want you to come with me to see the new Nicolas Parker movie.

B: Not on your life! I really don’t like him as an actor!

So, with this expression, we use it to talk about future events, and we say “not on your life” to indicate our or someone else’s unwillingness to do something in the future. It’s quite a strong expression, so you should only use it with close friends but not with someone of higher status.



  1. pico Jr. Said:

    Can you tell me the origin of this expression? I heard this expression before and know the meaning. Naively, “not in my life (time)” seems to more make sense…

    In addition, I have another question. I saw some one managing an online English school twitting:
    “Snowing from the morning. ~~~”
    This sounds wrong. “Snowing this morning” or “snowing since this morning” sounds better, doesn’t it? In twitter we can abbreviate sentences but cannot change the grammar.


    • Hi Pico.

      I was looking for the origin of “not on your life”, but I couldn’t find any information about it. I agree with you though – not in my lifetime does make more sense. However, that’s the way with idioms; often they don’t make sense.

      As for “snowing from the morning” – we usually would say “since this morning”, and I think it sounds better, but sometimes peoples use “from” instead of “since”.

      I hope that helps you.


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