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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Biden had quietly consoled families at a morning commemoration at ground zero, offering words of comfort to Amanda Barreto, who lost her godmother and aunt in the attacks, and handing a rose to a 90-year-old mother who had lost her son. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Biden is consoler in chief to Trump's commander in chief at Shanksville 9/11 memorial," 11 Sep. 2020 Republican Jeremy Bradford has gone from being executive director of the Tarrant County GOP to knocking on doors in Georgia — now ground zero for American politics — as an unassuming volunteer. Gromer Jeffers Jr., Dallas News, "Texas politicians, activists, volunteers flood Georgia to influence critical Senate runoffs," 1 Jan. 2021 The state is now ground zero in the battle for American democracy. Jordan Kurland, Billboard, "Artist Activism Helped Get Biden Elected, But We Must Keep It Going (Guest Column)," 4 Dec. 2020 Salon owners say their financial troubles began with the initial statewide shutdown in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom blamed a Northern California nail salon for being ground zero of community transmission of the coronavirus. Los Angeles Times, "Entering a new year sparkling? Not so for beauty businesses in Little Saigon," 6 Jan. 2021 Nursing homes are ground zero of this pandemic, accounting for some 40% of deaths in the U.S. Tom Frieden, WSJ, "How to Handle the Covid-19 Vaccine Breakthrough the Right Way," 4 Dec. 2020 Equally chilling is the camerawork that puts the viewer directly within ground zero of the virus, and the maelstrom of fear and ignorance about what halting the outbreak entails. David Morgan, CBS News, "DOC NYC documentary film festival goes online," 11 Nov. 2020 The news from Milan, ground zero in Europe for the pandemic, that came over social media and emails to Mandavia from physicians on the ground, underscored the newfound power of ultrasound. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "How FujiFilm pivoted fast to capture a key piece of the COVID treatment market," 21 Nov. 2020 Many of those 2024 hopefuls will be trekking to Georgia in the next seven weeks – ground zero in the fight for the U.S. Senate. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "Ted Cruz, affirming Trump’s refusal to concede, angles to be Trumpiest post-Trump contender," 13 Nov. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of ground zero

1946, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ground zero

Time Traveler for ground zero

Time Traveler

The first known use of ground zero was in 1946

See more words from the same year

Statistics for ground zero

Last Updated

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ground zero.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!