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

Here's how to explore the ground zero of the Midwest’s creative energy and output. Leslie Pariseau, Condé Nast Traveler, "3 Days in Detroit," 3 Oct. 2018 But in many ways, Georgia was ground zero for a huge fight about voting rights in the 2018 election. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "This Democrat thinks voting rights should be one of the House’s first big priorities in January," 11 Dec. 2018 Knotweed has also reached Australia, a country that has been ground zero for the worst excesses of invasive species. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, "Overrun by Alien Species," 1 Nov. 2018 Connecticut is ground zero for Republican efforts to continue their gains in progressive New England. Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: 'Trump effect' felt in Tuesday's primaries; Trump-Omarosa feud heading to court?," 15 Aug. 2018 This Saturday, more were open for business, even at least two on the Champs Élysées, ground zero for the protests. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "In Paris, the Gilets Jaunes Protests Impact Holiday Shopping Season," 17 Dec. 2018 But for a select few, the airport is ground zero for a heap of shadowy, dark conspiracy theories fueled by the internet. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Denver airport construction signs poke fun at conspiracy rumors," 7 Sep. 2018 Day and his colleagues studied pieces of trinitite from various locations; some were within 33 feet (10 m) of ground zero, and others were collected 330 feet (100 m) and 490 feet to 820 feet (150 to 250 m) away. Mike Wall,, "First Atomic Blast Reveals Clues About Moon Formation," 8 Feb. 2017 That’s because Pittsburgh became ground zero for realizing a running back’s fungibility. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Le’Veon Bell and the Diminishing Value of Running Backs in the NFL," 16 Nov. 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.

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

Statistics for ground zero

Last Updated

10 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ground zero

The first known use of ground zero was in 1946

See more words from the same year

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).


likely to have or produce good results

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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