\ˈzest \

Definition of zest 

1 : a piece of the peel of a citrus fruit (such as an orange or lemon) used as flavoring

2 : an enjoyably exciting quality : piquancy adds zest to the performance

3 : keen enjoyment : relish, gusto has a zest for living

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Other Words from zest

zestful \ ˈzest-​fəl \ adjective
zestfully \ ˈzest-​fə-​lē \ adverb
zestfulness noun
zestless \ ˈzest-​ləs \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for zest


nip, piquancy, pungency, spice, tang, zing



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Zest and Cooking

Zest can spice up your life—fitting for a word that we learned from the world of cooking. We borrowed the term from a source that has given English speakers many culinary delights: French cuisine. The French used the form zest (nowadays they spell it zeste) to refer to orange or lemon peel used to flavor food or drinks. English speakers developed a taste for the fruit flavoring and adopted the term zest in the late 1600s. By the early 1700s, they had started using the word to refer to any quality that adds enjoyment to something in the same way that the zest of an orange or lemon adds flavor to food.

Examples of zest in a Sentence

His humor added zest to the performance. His humor added a certain zest to the performance. The recipe calls for a tablespoon of lemon zest.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Because of his zest, making a record without him would be difficult. Chuck Dauphin, Billboard, "Kelly Willis Talks New Record, Collaborating With Her Husband, and Touring Again," 26 June 2018 The lack is far from damning, though, because Holter's writing is so clever, his appetite for cultural reference so huge (even Ghost gets in there), and his zest for make-believe so contagious. Tony Adler, Chicago Reader, "Ike Holter’s latest, The Light Fantastic, is darkly playful," 23 May 2018 He will be remembered for his zest for living life to the fullest as seen through his love and collection of fine wine, his horses and the thoroughbred racing world. Sun-Sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 4/16," 16 Apr. 2018 Stir together the sweet potato puree, sour cream and orange zest in a bowl, and then stir that mixture into the flour mixture. Sheri Castle, sacbee, "Dumplings can make a splash | The Sacramento Bee," 13 Feb. 2018 Beat in lemon juice, then lemon zest and vanilla until blended. Carla Hall, Redbook, "Say "I <3 You" With This Dessert," 20 Jan. 2014 Add a few grinds of black pepper and the lemon zest. Nick Marino, New York Times, "A Food Artist’s Surprisingly Low-Key Recipe (That She Eats With Her Hands)," 2 July 2018 In bowl, toss bacon with snipped chives and chopped flat-leaf parsley and zest of 1 lemon. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Burger Bar Toppings," 21 June 2018 Drain the currants and add them as well, along with the parsley, lemon zest and juice. Yotam Ottolenghi, sacbee, "Salmon – want it easy, or want it epic?," 5 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'zest.' 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 zest

circa 1674, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for zest

obsolete French (now zeste), orange or lemon peel (used as flavoring)

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zest for life


Statistics for zest

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for zest

The first known use of zest was circa 1674

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More Definitions for zest



English Language Learners Definition of zest

: lively excitement : a feeling of enjoyment and enthusiasm

: a lively quality that increases enjoyment, excitement, or energy

: small pieces of the skin of a lemon, orange, or lime that are used to flavor food


\ˈzest \

Kids Definition of zest

1 : a piece of the peel of a citrus fruit (as an orange or lemon) used to flavor foods

2 : an enjoyable or exciting quality Her humor added zest to the presentation.

3 : keen enjoyment They ate with zest.

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Comments on zest

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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