ze·​ro | \ ˈzir-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce zero (audio) , ˈzē-(ˌ)rō How to pronounce zero (audio) \
plural zeros also zeroes

Definition of zero

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : the arithmetical symbol 0 or 0̸ denoting the absence of all magnitude or quantity
b : additive identity specifically : the number between the set of all negative numbers and the set of all positive numbers
c : a value of an independent variable that makes a function equal to zero +2 and −2 are zeros of f(x)=x2−4
2 : the absence of a measurable quantity — see Table of Numbers
3a(1) : the point of departure in reckoning specifically : the point from which the graduation of a scale (as of a thermometer) begins
(2) : the temperature represented by the zero mark on a thermometer
b : the setting or adjustment of the sights of a firearm that causes it to shoot to point of aim at a desired range
4 : an insignificant person or thing : nonentity
5a : a state of total absence or neutrality
b : the lowest point : nadir
6 : something arbitrarily or conveniently designated zero



Definition of zero (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : of, relating to, or being a zero
b : having no magnitude or quantity : not any zero growth zero tolerance
c(1) : having no phonetic manifestation the zero modification in the past tense of cut
(2) : having no modified inflectional form a zero plural
2a of a cloud ceiling : limiting vision to 50 feet (15 meters) or less
b of horizontal visibility : limited to 165 feet (50.3 meters) or less


zeroed; zeroing; zeroes

Definition of zero (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to determine or adjust the zero of zero a rifle
2a : to concentrate firepower on the exact range of usually used with in
b : to bring to bear on the exact range of a target usually used with in

intransitive verb

1 : to adjust fire on a specific target usually used with in
2 : to close in on or focus attention on an objective usually used with in investigators are zeroing in on a suspect

Synonyms for zero

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of zero in a Sentence

Noun Two minus two equals zero. It's supposed to fall below zero tonight. The temperature is 10° above zero. They are working to reduce the mortality rate to zero.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The drive toward clean energy and net-zero is steady and strong. Ken Silverstein, Forbes, 25 Oct. 2021 What net zero does however is reframe the goal completely. Felicia Jackson, Forbes, 25 Oct. 2021 Exxon also nodded to the need to reduce emissions to net-zero across the world by 2050, without committing for itself as a company to achieve such a target for midcentury. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, 14 Dec. 2020 Noble House zeroes in on women and other marginalized farmers, working with them to develop new practices and walking them through paperwork. Janelle Bitker,, 23 Apr. 2020 Rather than encrypt this data with the session key negotiated earlier and used during the normal connection, vulnerable devices use a key consisting of all zeros, a move that makes decryption trivial. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 26 Feb. 2020 Instead, the sequence zeros in on Maeve, a withdrawn teenager with an absentee mother, as well as an older patient who already has multiple children. Sonia Rao, Washington Post, 25 Jan. 2020 Kyla Irwin, starting for the third time in her career, had one foul and one rebound and zeroes the rest of the way through her line in the box score. Mike Anthony,, 11 Nov. 2019 After the Blazers scrambled out to a 105-102 lead in overtime, Porter ended another string of zeros by swishing a 3-pointer from the corner. oregonlive, 2 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Many students have been missing the typical social interactions that are part of life in school (though a non-zero number of students have benefitted from not having to navigate such interactions). Peter Greene, Forbes, 5 June 2021 Yet following an ineffective appearance last week against Clemson, Conley totaled exactly zero yards of total offense in playing almost the entirety of the second quarter Saturday night. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, 27 Oct. 2019 There is a decidedly non-zero possibility that the federal government will shut down on Friday night. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, 18 Jan. 2018 Davis has played in just 13 NFL games, made zero appearances last year, and posted a passer rating of 66.2 in his three performances with the Browns in 2015. Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times, 5 June 2017 There’s absolutely zero evidence that dogs or cats can contract or transmit the virus. Patty Khuly, miamiherald, 10 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On Friday, Berding said the hiring process, which started with more than 100 candidates, produced Stam as the candidate FCC has zeroed in on. Pat Brennan,, 15 May 2020 He's also taken more novel approaches, zeroing in on students' interests, like creating an activity using Google Maps for one student who loves maps. Dakin Andone, CNN, 3 May 2020 The director Kathryn Bigelow, who was gearing up to make the high-octane surfer-cops movie Point Break, zeroed in on Reeves’s innate likability in these movies and fought for his casting as the hero, Johnny Utah. David Sims, The Atlantic, 24 Apr. 2020 Warriors general manager Bob Myers gave head coach Steve Kerr some homework last week: watch seven or eight prospects Golden State was zeroing in on with its first-round pick. Connor Letourneau,, 1 Apr. 2020 One such couple—the groom being from Australia and the bride from Mumbai—and zeroed in on picturesque Goa to get married next month. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, 19 Mar. 2020 Thank Google not only for all of those interactive exhibitions but also for Art Zoom videos that play like mini documentaries, zeroed in on tiny details of famous canvases and narrated by famous musicians including Jarvis Cocker and Maggie Rogers. Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times, 18 Mar. 2020 Sure, two big-screen productions zeroing in on the same town is a bizarre coincidence. Dan Singer, Dallas News, 20 Feb. 2020 In total, 43 percent of the normal mosquitoes zeroed in on the warmed blood sample, while most of the rest didn't land anywhere (the unheated sample was nearly devoid of mosquitoes). John Timmer, Ars Technica, 7 Feb. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'zero.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of zero


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1821, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1911, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for zero


French or Italian; French zéro, from Italian zero, from Medieval Latin zephirum, from Arabic ṣifr

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Cite this Entry

“Zero.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for zero


ze·​ro | \ ˈzē-rō How to pronounce zero (audio) , ˈzir-ō \
plural zeros or zeroes

Kids Definition of zero

1 : the numerical symbol 0 meaning the absence of all size or quantity
2 : the point on a scale (as on a thermometer) from which measurements are made
3 : the temperature shown by the zero mark on a thermometer
4 : a total lack of anything : nothing His contribution was zero.


ze·​ro | \ ˈzē-(ˌ)rō How to pronounce zero (audio) , ˈzi(ə)r-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce zero (audio) \
plural zeros also zeroes

Medical Definition of zero

1 : the arithmetical symbol 0 or 0̸ denoting the absence of all magnitude or quantity
2a : the point of departure in reckoning specifically : the point from which the graduation of a scale (as of a thermometer) begins
b : the temperature represented by the zero mark on a thermometer

More from Merriam-Webster on zero

Nglish: Translation of zero for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of zero for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about zero


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