ground zero


Definition of ground zero 

1 : the point directly above, below, or at which a nuclear explosion occurs

2 : the center or origin of rapid, intense, or violent activity or change broadly : center sense 2a the party town that served as ground zero for those corporate … bashes —Rich Eisen

3 : the very beginning : square one

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Examples of ground zero in a Sentence

ground zero in the battle over immigration laws a city that was once ground zero for the insurance industry

Recent Examples on the Web

Stonehenge is solstice ground zero (Photo: Andrew Matthews/AP Photo) Stonehenge is a huge, circular collection of rectangular stones assembled on a field in Wiltshire, England. Weldon Johnson, azcentral, "Summer solstice 2018 is June 21. Here's why the day is a big deal," 19 June 2018 Northern California is ground zero not only for Democrats, but also for independent voters. John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, "Republicans are now a third ‘party’ in California as voter totals shrink," 1 June 2018 Automated rain gauges in and around Catonsville, at ground zero, recorded nearly 13 to 15 inches of rain. Jeff Halverson, Washington Post, "The second 1,000-year rainstorm in two years engulfed Ellicott City. Here’s how it happened.," 28 May 2018 Downtown San Antonio is ground zero this week for college basketball mania, and the fans will come bearing colors and plenty of college spirit to boost their favorite teams again. From Staff Reports, San Antonio Express-News, "Fans for our first Final Four came bearing team colors.," 28 Mar. 2018 In the World Series, the Yankees hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks among heightened security for Games 3, 4, 5 at Yankee Stadium, just 14 miles from ground zero. Melissa Murphy,, "Museum exhibit highlights impact of sports after 9/11," 28 June 2018 If the plume encountered storm clouds, a large amount of drifting fallout could suddenly descend, creating a hot spot of radioactivity many miles from ground zero. Daily Intelligencer, "This Is What a Nuclear Bomb Looks Like," 12 June 2018 He was stationed in a tank just 3,100 yards from ground zero, while Times photographer Larry Sharkey took this photo from eight miles away., "Today: What Could Go Wrong?," 4 May 2018 Tucked along the merge of Interstates 5 and 805, Sorrento Mesa and the valley below are San Diego’s ground zero in high tech. Roger Showley,, "Sorrento Mesa and Valley: From railroad roots to a superconductor future," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ground zero.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ground zero

1946, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for ground zero

The first known use of ground zero was in 1946

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More Definitions for ground zero

ground zero


English Language Learners Definition of ground zero

: the point on the earth's surface directly above, below, or at which an explosion (especially a nuclear explosion) occurs

: the central point in an area of fast change or intense activity

: the beginning state or starting point

More from Merriam-Webster on ground zero

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ground zero Encyclopedia article about ground zero

Comments on ground zero

What made you want to look up ground zero? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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