\ˈzap \

Definition of zap 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 used to express a sound made by or as if by a gun

2 used to indicate a sudden or instantaneous occurrence


zapped; zapping

Definition of zap (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to get rid of, destroy, or kill especially with or as if with sudden force

b : to hit with or as if with a sudden concentrated application of force or energy

c : to irradiate especially with microwaves

2a : to propel suddenly or speedily

b : to transport instantaneously

3 : to avoid watching (something, such as a television commercial) by changing channels especially with a remote control or by fast-forwarding a videotape

intransitive verb

1 : to move with speed or force

2 : to change television channels using a remote control



Definition of zap (Entry 3 of 3)

: a pungent or zestful quality : zip also : a sudden forceful blow

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Examples of zap in a Sentence


The flowers were zapped by the cold weather. The aliens in the movie zapped people from spaceships. She reheated her muffin by zapping it in the microwave for a few seconds. I zapped through the channels for a while before falling asleep. We tape the show so we can zap through the commercials.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Lost Spirits in Los Angeles has developed technologies that zap its products with high-intensity light and heat in a reactor. Alan Goldfarb, The Verge, "Artificial whiskey is coming, and one company is betting you’ll drink up," 23 Aug. 2018 It's created in the lab by zapping thin samples of water sandwiched between plates with high-intensity shock waves or laser pulses. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Weird water phase “ice-VII” can grow as fast as 1,000 miles per hour," 24 Oct. 2018 But medical professionals — surprise! — aren't so enthused about the idea of women zapping their vaginas with lasers. Leah Prinzivalli, Teen Vogue, "The FDA Issued a Warning Against Vaginal Rejuvenation Procedures," 1 Aug. 2018 But medical professionals aren't so enthused about the idea of women zapping their vaginas with lasers. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Why the FDA Is Issuing a Major Warning Against Vaginal Rejuvenation Procedures," 1 Aug. 2018 Pregnancy tends to zap a mother's energy as her hormones rearrange themselves and her body produces more blood. refinery29.com, "Cardi B & Offset Open Up About Hiding Her Pregnancy From The World," 20 June 2018 More fascinating still: When the researchers zapped this patch of neurons via ECoG, their test subjects' larynx muscles contracted in response. Robbie Gonzalez, WIRED, "One Sentence With 7 Meanings Unlocks a Mystery of Human Speech," 28 June 2018 But while the convenience of zapping away on my couch while watching Law & Order: SVU was seductive, none seemed quite right. Chloe Malle, Vogue, "Laser Hair Removal: Is It Really Worth It?," 2 May 2018 One promising strategy: Cover sensitive surfaces with an Electrodynamic Dust Shield — essentially, electrically charged panels that shoot currents through thin wires to zap dust away. Brandon Specktor, Fox News, "Moon dust could give astronauts permanent DNA damage, study finds," 17 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

What feels like a subtle tightening of the muscles and some mild TASER-like tingles at 10 or 20 percent intensity grows to an extreme gripping and upward pull with sharper zaps. Jolene Edgar, Allure, "What Is EMSulpt? Here's Everything You Need to Know About the Body-Contouring Treatment," 17 Sep. 2018 Carrying photography equipment and moving around in places that aren’t up to code brings with it other hazards, too, ranging from electrical zaps to collapsing ceilings. Anna Orso, Philly.com, "The woman who died in Pennypack Creek was a 'queen' in the urban exploration world," 6 June 2018 Indeed, the spectacle of the zap emerged from a community with strong ties to live performance. Sascha Cohen, Smithsonian, "How Gay Activists Challenged the Politics of Civility," 10 July 2018 The first groups to orchestrate zaps included the GAA and Gay Liberation Front (GLF), which formed in the wake of Stonewall and committed to nonviolent, but militant, resistance. Sascha Cohen, Smithsonian, "How Gay Activists Challenged the Politics of Civility," 10 July 2018 The zap of the Taser can be heard, and Brown groans. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "Milwaukee police stepped on Sterling Brown's ankle, mocked him, bodycam footage shows," 6 June 2018 The team then applied zap and zip to 81 patients who were minimally conscious or in a vegetative state. Christof Koch, Scientific American, "What Is Consciousness?," 8 May 2018 These sensory substitution devices, as they are called, translate the visual world into small zaps of electricity users can feel on a grid placed on their tongue. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Can you hear these silent GIFs? You may have a new form of synesthesia.," 3 May 2018 That sense of scale defines the production from top to bottom: Every line, every gag, every punch and every zap arrives on cue. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "'Avengers: Infinity War': a rousing Marvel mash-up, or a truly epic tease?," 24 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'zap.' 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 zap


1929, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1942, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1963, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for zap



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Statistics for zap

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Time Traveler for zap

The first known use of zap was in 1929

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More Definitions for zap



English Language Learners Definition of zap

: to attack, destroy, or kill (someone or something) quickly

: to hit (someone or something) with electricity

: to shoot (someone or something) with an electric gun, laser, etc.


\ˈzap \
zapped; zapping

Kids Definition of zap

: to hit with or as if with a jolt of electricity Lightning zapped the tree.

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More from Merriam-Webster on zap

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with zap

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for zap

Spanish Central: Translation of zap

Nglish: Translation of zap for Spanish Speakers

Comments on zap

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to enclose within walls

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