\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Season with more lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil and salt to taste. Kitty Greenwald, WSJ, "The Only Salad Recipe You Need," 14 June 2018 In a blender, blend together the feijoas, lemon juice, zest, melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. San Antonio Express-News, "Recipe: Feijoa, Lemon and Coconut Muffins," 13 June 2018 Add-ins to have on hand include lime juice and zest, cilantro, lemon, red onions, a drizzle of vinegar, and chiles (like jalapeños). Rochelle Bilow, Bon Appetit, "Avocado Common Mistakes to Avoid, So You Can Enjoy the World's Most Perfect Food," 11 June 2018 Note: For Blueberry Preserves, combine one pint of fresh blueberries, one cup sugar and the juice and zest of two lemons in a saucepan. Tod Caviness, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Cocktail recipe: Lavender Blue at F&D Kitchen & Bar in Lake Mary," 30 Mar. 2018 Add sugar, ½ cup cold water, ¼ cup lemon juice, and the lemon zest. For Kroger, The Courier-Journal, "Last-minute Easter Dessert," 29 Mar. 2018 Whisk in the butter, lemon juice, and zest, cooking for another minute until the butter is melted and the filling is smooth and fragrant. Pour the filling directly into the prepared tart crust. Maya Wilson, Anchorage Daily News, "Lemon meringue pie is an old-fashioned but dreamy confection worth making," 22 Mar. 2018 Add the stock, zest and juice, cinnamon and honey, and season with more salt and pepper. Daniel Neman, sacbee, "Artistry, flavor blends are marks of Moroccan," 10 July 2018 Stir in cilantro, lemon juice and lemon zest; season with salt and pepper. Alysha Witwicki, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "What to bring? These side dishes are always welcome at a summer picnic," 29 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.

See More

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)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about zest

Listen to Our Podcast about zest

Dictionary Entries near zest






zest for life


Phrases Related to zest

zest for life

Statistics for zest

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for zest

The first known use of zest was circa 1674

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


an open space surrounded by woods

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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