## Words nearby zero

## Origin of zero

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## British Dictionary definitions for zero in on

See also zero in

## Word Origin for zero

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

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## Medical definitions for zero in on

zero

[ zîr′ō ]

### 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.

### v.

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.

## Scientific definitions for zero in on

zero

[ zîr′ō ]

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.

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Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

## Idioms and Phrases with zero in on

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]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.