Nought or Naught?

When should we use ‘naught’ or ‘nought’, and is there
actually a difference? This question came up recently when I posted a story on
a website. Although both words mean zero or nothing, it seems there is a distinction
between the two in British English. ‘Nought’ means zero in the literal sense,
as in ‘When the counting was done, he ended up with nought’. ‘Naught’, on the
other hand, means ‘nothing’ in a more poetic or rhetorical sense, as in ‘All
his efforts came to naught’.  While this distinction is made in British English, in USA English, the spelling ‘naught’
is preferred for both the literal and poetic/rhetorical senses. Both ‘nought’ and ‘naught’ come from Old English words, ‘nowiht’
and ‘nawiht’, respectively, and both words mean ‘nothing’. They are compounds
of ‘no’ (no) and ‘wiht’ (thing). Hope this helps!

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