Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The numerical symbol 0; a cipher.
  • noun The identity element for addition.
  • noun A cardinal number indicating the absence of any or all units under consideration.
  • noun An ordinal number indicating an initial point or origin.
  • noun An argument at which the value of a function vanishes.
  • noun The temperature indicated by the numeral 0 on a thermometer.
  • noun A sight setting that enables a firearm to shoot on target.
  • noun Informal One having no influence or importance; a nonentity.
  • noun The lowest point.
  • noun Informal Nothing; nil.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or being zero.
  • adjective Having no measurable or otherwise determinable value.
  • adjective Informal Absent, inoperative, or irrelevant in specified circumstances.
  • adjective Designating a ceiling not more than 16 meters (52 feet) high.
  • adjective Limited in horizontal visibility to no more than 55 meters (180 feet).
  • adjective Linguistics Of or relating to a morpheme that is expected by an established, regular paradigm but has no spoken or written form. Moose has a zero plural; that is, its plural is moose.
  • transitive verb To adjust (an instrument or a device) to zero value.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Cipher; the figure 0, which stands for naught in the Arabic notation for numbers.
  • noun The defect of all quantity considered as quantity; the origin of measurement stated as at a distance from itself; nothing, quantitatively regarded.
  • noun Hence—3. Figuratively, the bottom of the scale; the lowest point or ebb; a state of nullity or inanition.
  • noun In function-theory, a value of x which makes the function vanish.
  • noun In psychophysics, the temperature at which a thermal stimulus fails to arouse a sensation either of warmth or of cold in the cutaneous organs; the indifference-point of thermal stimulation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Arith.) A cipher; nothing; naught.
  • noun The point from which the graduation of a scale, as of a thermometer, commences.
  • noun Fig.: The lowest point; the point of exhaustion.
  • noun See under Absolute.
  • noun (Physics) a method of comparing, or measuring, forces, electric currents, etc., by so opposing them that the pointer of an indicating apparatus, or the needle of a galvanometer, remains at, or is brought to, zero, as contrasted with methods in which the deflection is observed directly; -- called also null method.
  • noun the point indicating zero, or the commencement of a scale or reckoning.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun cardinal The cardinal number occurring before one and that denotes no quantity or amount at all, represented in Arabic numerals as 0.
  • noun The numeric symbol that represents the cardinal number zero.
  • noun The digit 0 in the decimal, binary, and all other base numbering systems.
  • noun informal, uncountable Nothing, or none.
  • noun The value of a magnitude corresponding to the cardinal number zero.
  • noun The point on a scale at which numbering or measurement originates.
  • noun mathematics A value of the independent variables of a function, for which the function is equal to zero.
  • noun mathematics, algebra The additive identity element of a monoid or greater algebraic structure, particularly a group or ring.
  • noun slang A person of little or no importance.
  • noun military A Mitsubishi A6M Zero, a long range fighter aircraft operated by the Japanese Navy Air Service from 1940 to 1945.
  • noun A setting of calibrated instruments such as a firearm.
  • noun finance A security which has a zero coupon (paying no periodic interest).
  • adjective informal, used with noun none

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Italian, from alteration of Medieval Latin zephirum, from Arabic ṣifr, nothing, cipher; see cipher.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French zéro, from Italian zero, from Medieval Latin zephirum, from Arabic صفر (ṣifr, "nothing, cipher").

Examples

  • The term "zero tolerance" came into popular usage during the Reagan presidency when Congress passed the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.

    Alan Singer: The School-to-Prison Pipeline

  • The potential of electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles to dramatically cut emissions from cars is tremendous, though the term "zero emissions motoring" needs to be treated with caution.

    BBC News - Home

  • Over the past two months in particular, Turkey's leaders have been adjusting a foreign policy that went under the rubric "zero problems with neighbors" to changes forced by the Arab Spring, analysts say.

    Turkey Seizes Libyan Bank Assets

  • Consider This: An intriguing image characterizes this unusual name, but its similarity to the word zero may be holding it back.

    5-Star Baby Name Advisor

  • The term zero-energy home was coined by the Department of Energy as part of a program to create technologies for homes that would produce all of their own energy by 2010.

    Living Free and Easy

  • But it raises the question of whether zero is a continuation of the natural numbers, or a separate type of entity.

    None is, none are: Grammar according to Clarkson « Motivated Grammar

  • Mr. Bratton, who ended his stint as Los Angeles police chief last year and joined a private security firm, advocated what he termed a zero-tolerance policy toward petty and minor crimes combined with a reliance on crime statistics to guide policing.

    Tenderloin Crackdown Sparks Backlash

  • What McCain is trying to do, Wolf, is trying to balance his stanch support for hard-hit Americans with what he calls zero tolerance for Washington and Wall Street being asleep at the switch.

    CNN Transcript Sep 17, 2008

  • In 1994, founder Ray Anderson started his company on its goal as a “restorative enterprise,” which he described as zero net pollution and 100% recycling by 2020.

    Is Corporate Greenmania Real?

  • President Bush said it's unrealistic to expect what he calls zero violence in Iraq.

    CNN Transcript Jun 14, 2006

Comments

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  • Zero, a Word sometimes us'd especially among the French, for a Cipher or Nought (0).

    Phillips's New World of Words, 1706

    June 8, 2011

  • Zero is both a robot in Sonic the Hedgehog and a candy bar.

    January 28, 2009

  • Zero is both a thing and a lack of a thing.

    January 28, 2009

  • Ooh I dunno, the law of the playground is a code above the shots of (wo)man.

    January 28, 2009

  • Can this be cured with a cootie shot?

    January 28, 2009

  • Zero the hero.

    First the worst.

    Second the best.

    Third the one with the hairy chest.

    Fourth the horse with the tomato-sauce.

    January 28, 2009

  • Hero or Zero?

    September 6, 2007

  • "My reflection, dirty mirror

    There's no connection to myself

    I'm your lover, I'm your zero

    I'm in the face of your dreams of glass"

    January 10, 2007