noun, plural ze·ros, ze·roes.
- the identity element of a group in which the operation is addition.
- (of a function, especially of a function of a complex variable) a point at which a given function, usually a function of a complex variable, has the value zero; a root.
verb (used with object), ze·roed, ze·ro·ing.
- (of an atmospheric ceiling) pertaining to or limiting vertical visibility to 50 feet (15.2 meters) or less.
- of, relating to, or limiting horizontal visibility to 165 feet (50.3 meters) or less.
- to aim directly at (a target).
- to direct one's attention to; focus on; concentrate on.
- to converge on; close in on.
Origin of zero
noun plural -ros or -roes
- the temperature, pressure, etc, that registers a reading of zero on a scale
- the value of a variable, such as temperature, obtained under specified conditions
- the cardinal number of a set with no members
- the identity element of addition
- an allomorph with no phonetic realization, as the plural marker of English sheep
- (as modifier)a zero form
- (of a cloud ceiling) limiting visibility to 15 metres (50 feet) or less
- (of horizontal visibility) limited to 50 metres (165 feet) or less
verb -roes, -roing or -roed
Word Origin for zero
in zero in, 1944, from zero (n.); the image is from instrument adjustments.
c.1600, from Italian zero, from Medieval Latin zephirum, from Arabic sifr "cipher," translation of Sanskrit sunya-m "empty place, desert, naught" (see cipher (n.)). A brief history of the invention of "zero" can be found here. Meaning "worthless person" is recorded from 1813. Zero tolerance first recorded 1972, originally U.S. political language.
n. pl. ze•ros
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.
zero in on
Aim precisely at a target, as in They zeroed in on the last snipers. [c. 1940]
Direct one's attention to, concentrate or focus on, as in We must zero in on the exact combination of ingredients, or The whole class zeroed in on the new assignment. This usage transfers aiming a firearm to directing one's attention. [Mid-1900s]
Converge on, close in on, as in The children zeroed in on the electric train display. [Mid-1900s]