\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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 The chicken Lo Scorpielo is a misspelling of Scarpiello, but was spot-on, with the zingy flavors of its light natural gravy zapped with tang of cherry-pepper heat. Craig Laban, Philly.com, "Jersey Shore restaurants offer tasty food options from Cape May to LBI," 29 June 2018 Lipka zapping a female librarian (Ann Dowd) with a stun device. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, "The Temple grad who tried - and failed - to mastermind a $20 million art heist," 6 June 2018 From face masks to mile-long manicures to zapping away nostril hairs (quite possibly the highlight), the road to the red carpet is paved with products and some pretty amazing Instagrams. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "Met Gala 2018: Celebrities Share Getting-Ready Beauty Routines," 7 May 2018 But the toughest to master for Rudd involved a brief sight gag in which his suit malfunctions, zapping him to the size of a toddler. Eli Wolfe, SFChronicle.com, "‘Ant-Man’ Paul Rudd talks tiny insects and Skywalker Ranch," 2 July 2018 And the program running The Valley Beyond got zapped to some undisclosed location, thereby ending any possibility of movement between its realm and our own, according to Dolores. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Westworld’s Virtual Afterlife Might Not Be Fiction," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 After each zap, Dobbyn is pulled out of the MRI, questioned, and often asked to write on the paper again. NBC News, "New ultrasound treatment stops essential tremors," 11 Feb. 2018 The temperature accentuates their smooth surface and, like the slivers of cucumber, makes the small zap of chile oil call out more clearly. Pete Wells, New York Times, "A Chinatown Noodle Dynasty Returns in Style," 13 Feb. 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.

See More

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



Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about zap

Statistics for zap

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for zap

The first known use of zap was in 1929

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on zap

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


not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!