1 of 3


used to express a sound made by or as if by a gun
used to indicate a sudden or instantaneous occurrence


2 of 3


zapped; zapping; zaps

transitive verb

: to get rid of, destroy, or kill especially with or as if with sudden force
: to hit with or as if with a sudden concentrated application of force or energy
: to irradiate especially with microwaves
: to propel suddenly or speedily
: to transport instantaneously
: to avoid watching (something, such as a television commercial) by changing channels especially with a remote control or by fast-forwarding

intransitive verb

: to move with speed or force
: to change television channels using a remote control


3 of 3


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

Example Sentences

Verb 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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Even so, this still topped the list for both ease of use and ability to zap out spots. Rachel Chang, Condé Nast Traveler, 23 Jan. 2023 While the new Democratic leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, would be able to appoint replacements, the changes could still significantly slow down the panel’s work and zap it of valuable institutional knowledge. Eric Cortellessa, Time, 2 Jan. 2023 If ultrasound gives us the power to zap a cylinder of cortex roughly the size of your little finger, that would be incredible. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 9 Feb. 2014 Rolls Royce declined to discuss this or its other work in this area, such as an outlandish plan to zap the exhaust with microwaves to prevent ice crystals from forming. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, 15 Nov. 2022 Other physiologic changes can also zap your energy, Dr. Bianco says. Amy Marturana Winderl, SELF, 17 Nov. 2022 In fact, according to Dr. Rosenberg, severe bruising is a thing of the past with blepharoplasties, thanks to new-age lasers, like the Vbeam, which can zap and neutralize any bright discolorations that appear post-operatively. Kaitlin Clark, Allure, 13 Oct. 2022 Hoping to zap the invaders with a coherent beam of green light that deeply annoys the birds, biologist Tim Shields took aim. Los Angeles Times, 17 Nov. 2022 While zapping grease, these ingredients also tend to zap everything else: vibrance, bounce, swing. Allure Editors, Allure, 13 Sep. 2022
But the real stars are the, ahem, stars—pimple patches of various sizes that help zap zits quickly and gently without popping. Garrett Munce, Men's Health, 11 Nov. 2022 In the study, surgeons implanted a device that learned to detect when the patients had a craving to binge eat, and then deliver a small zap to the brain to lessen the craving. Erika Edwards, NBC News, 30 Aug. 2022 Very simply: unpacking and packing is a hassle and a time-zap, and traditional luggage does nothing to alleviate that, ours does. Bridget Arsenault, Forbes, 17 Aug. 2022 But bleach, a powerful cleaner, can be used to zap germs, brighten surfaces, and eliminate odors. Megan Boettcher, Better Homes & Gardens, 4 Aug. 2022 At the point of sale, merchants put cards into clunky manual imprinters, sometimes called zip-zap machines, to record the card’s embossed data on flimsy slips of paper. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, 28 July 2022 If this student has veered away from the assignment a few too many times, the teacher can take remote control of the device and zap the tab themselves. Wired, 4 Aug. 2022 Think about the simple telegraph set, where one wire carries a signal that is transmitted one zap or quiet space at a time. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 29 Apr. 2022 With an electric zap, the liquid shifts forward; its body follows with the air sac acting like a tail. Rasha Aridi, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

Word History




First Known Use


1929, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1942, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1963, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of zap was in 1929

Dictionary Entries Near zap

Cite this Entry

“Zap.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


zapped; zapping
: to destroy or kill by or as if by shooting
: to hit suddenly and forcefully

More from Merriam-Webster on zap

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?