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verb (used without object)
  1. to move quickly or suddenly with a loud humming or buzzing sound: cars zooming by on the freeway.
  2. to fly an airplane suddenly and sharply upward at great speed for a short distance, as in regaining altitude, clearing an obstacle, or signaling.
  3. Movies, Television. to bring a subject, scene, etc., into closeup or cause it to recede into a long shot using a zoom lens and while maintaining focus.
  4. Informal. to increase or rise suddenly and sharply: Rents would zoom without rent control laws.
verb (used with object)
  1. to cause (an airplane) to zoom.
  2. to fly over (an obstacle) by zooming.
  1. the act or process of zooming.
  2. a zooming sound.
  3. Informal. zoom lens.
  4. Also called zoom shot. Movies, Television. a shot in which a subject, scene, or action is brought closer or made to recede by the use of a zoom lens.
Verb Phrases
  1. zoom in (on),
    1. to bring (a subject, scene, etc.) into closeup by using a zoom lens: to zoom in for a look at the injured man; to zoom in on a candidate at a political convention.
    2. to examine more closely or in greater detail; focus on: The panel zoomed in on the subject of abortion.

Origin of zoom

First recorded in 1885–90; imitative

Synonyms for zoom

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for zoom in

zoom in

  1. (intr, adverb) photog films television to increase rapidly the magnification of the image of a distant object by means of a zoom lens
  2. to examine the smallest details of a subject


  1. to make or cause to make a continuous buzzing or humming sound
  2. to move or cause to move with such a sound
  3. (intr) to move very rapidly; rushwe zoomed through town
  4. to cause (an aircraft) to climb briefly at an unusually steep angle, or (of an aircraft) to climb in this way
  5. (intr) (of prices) to rise rapidly
  1. the sound or act of zooming
  2. See zoom lens

Word Origin for zoom

C20: of imitative 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

Word Origin and History for zoom in


1886, of echoic origin. Gained popularity c.1917 as aviators began to use it; zoom lens is 1936.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper