\ ˈzap How to pronounce zap (audio) \

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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Plus a tape measure to get the tree diameters and a laser to zap tree heights. Simon Lewis, Quartz Africa, "Scientists tracked 300,000 trees only to find rainforests are losing their power to help humanity," 12 Mar. 2020 Why did ordinary people agree to zap a stranger with 450 volts? Sam Sommers, Fortune, "Are the Houston Astros irredeemable cheaters? Or are they all of us?," 26 Feb. 2020 The bolt looks like an instant flash but actually zaps up its path at one-third the speed of light. Rob Verger, Popular Science, "Dissecting a lightning strike, from flash to boom," 10 Feb. 2020 The sample was then placed in an atom probe and zapped with a laser, displacing atoms one by one. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Single grain of moon dust from Apollo 17 mission holds millions of years of lunar secrets," 7 Feb. 2020 Related Stories Solar flares jettisoned from the sun impact life here on Earth, hampering satellites in orbit and zapping our electrical grids. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "This Is the Most Detailed Video of the Sun's Surface Ever Taken—and It's Incredible," 30 Jan. 2020 That's far easier said than done in the winter, though, when cold and bitter weather whisks in and zaps the hydration from our faces. Nicola Dall'asen, Allure, "Your Lip Balm Could Be Making Your Chapped Lips Worse, Experts Say," 23 Jan. 2020 A few years later, everyone was taking conference calls on exercise balls, the bobbing blobs said to build core strength and zap calories. Magdalena Puniewska, WSJ, "Goodbye, Back Pain? This Office Chair Was Designed by a Trauma Surgeon," 17 Jan. 2020 The continued blowouts and lengthy losing streaks weighed heavily, zapping his joy and leaving him beaten going into the All-Star break. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "John Beilein leaves mark with emotional goodbye in Cavaliers’ film room following resignation Wednesday," 20 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Batters have to wear shock collars and the opposing team is allowed 10 zaps per inning. Danny Hermosillo, Houston Chronicle, "#CancelHouston: Comedian Daniel Tosh bashes Houston Astros on social media," 20 Feb. 2020 The feeling was electric, the quick zaps and relief, the lingering pain and pleasure. Irina Groushevaia, Bon Appétit, "How a Queer-Run Sauna Brought Me Back to My Russian Roots," 19 Feb. 2020 But the rogue charges that escape are enough to dazzle observers, inspire awe and fear (which is fair—the zaps do kill a few dozen people in the US every year), and make some magnificent thunder. Rob Verger, Popular Science, "Dissecting a lightning strike, from flash to boom," 10 Feb. 2020 With the front and rear electric motors combining for a 2.5-second zap of 750 horsepower and 774 lb-ft of torque, the Taycan's launch is even more unhinged than the Tesla Model S's Ludicrous mode. Eric Tingwall, Car and Driver, "Porsche's Taycan Turbo S Redefines Quick for Performance Sedans," 29 Jan. 2020 Keeping them clean, though, might require something with a bit more zap. Wired, "Tesla Has Found a Use for Lasers—Cleaning Glass," 3 Dec. 2019 What a bright little treat for a chilly morning: a warm muffin, either freshly baked or given a quick zap, with a crunchy walnut top. Kari Sonde, Washington Post, "8 recipes for the pumpkin spice lovers — and the haters," 14 Oct. 2019 Some even are looking beyond drugs, testing if electrical zaps in the brain, along a corridor of neural connections, might activate it in ways that slow Alzheimer’s damage. Washington Post, "Scientists rethink Alzheimer’s, diversifying the drug search," 10 Sep. 2019 Strongly stimulating these neurons is apparently unpleasant; mice in the study avoided electrical zaps to the area. Kelly Servick, Science | AAAS, "Sweet, fatty foods could remodel the brain to drive overeating," 27 June 2019

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

Cite this Entry

“Zap.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zap. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

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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 How to pronounce zap (audio) \
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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for zap

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with zap

Spanish Central: Translation of zap

Nglish: Translation of zap for Spanish Speakers

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