Unless and until

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A cretinous expression that means simply “until”, because “until” implies “unless”. Inevitably couched as a double negative, you may see, from the nib of a fastidious wordsmith:

Party A shall not be obligated to do any such thing unless and until state of affairs X shall have occurred.”

  • Until X” means “at any time up to the point at which X happens”.
  • Unless X” means “except if X has happened”.

At the point in time at which X happens, then X must have happened. Q.E.D.

To put it in a way which noted legal commentator Professor Leonard Kravitz[1] might recognise:

It ain’t happened ’til it’s happened.

But don’t let that stream of irresistible logic stop you flannelling away to your heart’s content.


  1. Learned author of the celebrated monograph “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”.