zero

1 of 3

noun

plural zeros also zeroes
1
a
: 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
3
a(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
5
a
: a state of total absence or neutrality
b
: the lowest point : nadir
6
: something arbitrarily or conveniently designated zero

zero

2 of 3

adjective

1
a
: 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
2
a
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

zero

3 of 3

verb

zeroed; zeroing; zeroes

transitive verb

1
: to determine or adjust the zero of
zero a rifle
2
a
: 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

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
Rise in zeros is a national issue Marion, the testing expert, said the growing number of zeros on constructed response questions is a major topic of conversation in his meetings with clients. Silas Allen, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 6 July 2024 Riemann knew that the zeta function has an infinite number of zeros within the critical strip. Manon Bischoff, Scientific American, 1 July 2024
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
Verb
Yes, but: The idea has limitations, starting with the difficulty of zeroing in and addressing transmission at the source, experts said. Tina Reed, Axios, 10 July 2024 Still other pieces zeroed on specific body parts: hands, heads, torsos, and the like. Alex Greenberger, ARTnews.com, 2 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for zero 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'zero.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

1821, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1911, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of zero was in 1598

Dictionary Entries Near zero

Cite this Entry

“Zero.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zero. Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

zero

1 of 3 noun
ze·​ro ˈzē-rō How to pronounce zero (audio)
ˈzi(ə)r-ō
plural zeros also zeroes
1
: the numerical symbol 0 meaning the absence of all magnitude or quantity see number
2
a
: a point (as on a scale) from which measurements are made
b
: a value or reading of zero
especially : the temperature represented by zero on a thermometer
3
: something or someone of no importance
4
: the lowest point

zero

2 of 3 adjective
1
a
: of, relating to, or being a zero
b
: having no size or quantity
zero growth
2
: showing no change in the word form
"sheep" is a noun with a zero plural

zero

3 of 3 verb
1
: to find out or adjust the zero of (as a balance)
2
: to aim or concentrate on a target or goal
zero in on my problems with algebra

Medical Definition

zero

noun
plural zeros also zeroes
1
: the arithmetical symbol 0 or 0̸ denoting the absence of all magnitude or quantity
2
a
: 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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