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[zilch] /zɪltʃ/
noun, Slang.
zero; nothing:
The search came up with zilch.
Origin of zilch
1965-70, Americanism; perhaps continuous with earlier zilch snafu, Mr. Zilch a character in Ballyhoo, a humor magazine first published in 1931; for sense cf. zip3 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for zilch


noun (slang)
(US & Canadian, sport) nil
Word Origin
C20: of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for zilch

"nothing," 1966, from earlier sense of "meaningless speech" (1960), originally Mr. Zilch (1931), comic character in the magazine "Ballyhoo." Perhaps from U.S. college slang (early 1900s) Joe Zilsch "an insignificant person." Probably a nonsense syllable, but Zilch is an actual German surname of Slavic origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for zilch



: York has close to zilch industry


  1. Nothing; zero; zip: The city has turned its smaller islands into zilch/ got the jeep for practically zilch (1960s+)
  2. storch (1970s+ Teenagers)
  3. A minor skin lesion; zit (1970s+ Teenagers)


To hold an opponent scoreless; blank, skunk (1960s+ Sports)

Related Terms

joe blow, not know beans

[probably fr zero, and like zip1, primarily a variant coined from a familiar word beginning with z; notice, in this regard, how zilch has become a variant of zit; in British use, but not US, zilch might be reinforced by nil, ''zero''; all senses may derive fr the early 1900s US college use Joe Zilsch, ''any insignificant person,'' popularized during the 1930s by ubiquitous use in the humor magazine Ballyhoo with the spelling Zilch, an actual German surname of Slavic origin]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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