Nearby words

  1. zepto-,
  2. zeptosecond,
  3. zermatt,
  4. zermelo's axiom,
  5. zernike,
  6. zero balancing,
  7. zero defects,
  8. zero gravity,
  9. zero grazing,
  10. zero hour

Origin of zero

1595–1605; < Italian < Medieval Latin zephirum < Arabic ṣifr cipher Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for zero

British Dictionary definitions for zero


noun plural -ros or -roes

the symbol 0, indicating an absence of quantity or magnitude; noughtFormer name: cipher
the integer denoted by the symbol 0; nought
the cardinal number between +1 and –1
nothing; nil
a person or thing of no significance; nonentity
the lowest point or degreehis prospects were put at zero
the line or point on a scale of measurement from which the graduations commence
  1. the temperature, pressure, etc, that registers a reading of zero on a scale
  2. the value of a variable, such as temperature, obtained under specified conditions
a gunsight setting in which accurate allowance has been made for both windage and elevation for a specified range
  1. the cardinal number of a set with no members
  2. the identity element of addition
  1. an allomorph with no phonetic realization, as the plural marker of English sheep
  2. (as modifier)a zero form
Also called: zero-coupon bond finance a bond that pays no interest, the equivalent being paid in its redemption valueCompare Zebra


having no measurable quantity, magnitude, etc
  1. (of a cloud ceiling) limiting visibility to 15 metres (50 feet) or less
  2. (of horizontal visibility) limited to 50 metres (165 feet) or less

verb -roes, -roing or -roed

(tr) to adjust (an instrument, apparatus, etc) so as to read zero or a position taken as zero


informal, mainly US no (thing) at allthis job has zero interest
See also zero in

Word Origin for zero

C17: from Italian, from Medieval Latin zephirum, from Arabic sifr empty, cipher

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

Word Origin and History for zero
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for zero



n. pl. ze•ros

The numerical symbol 0, indicating the absence of quantity or mass.
The temperature indicated by the numeral 0 on a thermometer.


To adjust an instrument or device to zero value.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for zero



The numerical symbol 0, representing a number that when added to another number leaves the original number unchanged.

A Closer Look

Although the origin of zero is controversial, some historians believe that it was invented by the Babylonians in about 500 BCE. In the sixth century, it was discovered by the Hindus and Chinese, and 700 years later, it reached the Western world via the Arabs. Zero is the only integer (whole number) that is neither positive nor negative. In a sense, zero makes negative numbers possible, as a negative number added to its positive counterpart always equals zero. When zero is added to or subtracted from a number, it leaves the number at its original value. Zero is essential as a position holder in the system known as positional notation. In the number 203, for example, there are two hundreds, zero tens, and three ones. Zero indicates that the value of the tens place is zero. In the number 1024, zero indicates that the value of the hundreds place is zero. Scientists use the term absolute zero (0° Kelvin) to refer to the (unattainable) theoretically lowest possible temperature, at which the kinetic energy of molecules is zero.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.