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proprietary name of a brand of cigarette lighter, patented 1934 by Zippo Manufacturing Co., Bradford, Pa.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Examples from the Web for zippo
Historical Examples
  • Rubini and zippo are both certain that this woman is acting in perfect good faith.

    Out with Garibaldi G. A. Henty
  • The fellow must have seen some of us, because he was just starting to run when, zippo, that detective had him by the collar again.

    Roy Blakeley's Camp on Wheels Percy Keese Fitzhugh
  • zippo had rallied the men, who, gathering together, endeavoured to fight their way through their assailants.

    Out with Garibaldi G. A. Henty
  • As Frank was strolling up the street he met the two friends, for zippo was a cousin of the captain.

    Out with Garibaldi G. A. Henty
Slang definitions & phrases for zippo

zip 1


  1. A mark or grade of zero
  2. Zero; nothing; a score of zero; zilch: People aren't exactly beating down the doors to buy California port. ''The market is zip, zero, and not too much''/ dipped into your moneybag and found zippo

Related Terms

not give a damn, not know beans

[1900+ Students; like zilch, probably coined from a familiar word beginning with z]

zip 2


Energy; vitality; vim; pizzazz, zing: There is a zip and a zing here/ bounced back with the real zippo

[1900+; echoic of the sound of something swishing rapidly through the air, giving an impression of force, and also of the tearing of cloth; such a use is attested fr 1875]



To set something on fire; ignite something

[1970s+ Army; fr Zippo, trademark of a cigarette lighter, probably fr the sound made as one turns the sparking wheel, and the speed with which the lighter ignites]

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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