Definition of zero in English:


Syllabification: ze·ro
Pronunciation: /ˈzi(ə)rō, ˈzēˌrō

number (plural zeros)

  • 1No quantity or number; naught; the figure 0: figures from zero to nine you’ve left off a zero—it should be five hundred million
    More example sentences
    • Contemporaries in the media gave their own ballpark figures, each adding a zero to the figure I already had.
    • The vote has been re-opened with the figures reset to zero.
    • Those who wrote these regulations just forgot to put a zero behind the figures.
  • 1.1A point on a scale or instrument from which a positive or negative quantity is reckoned: the gauge dropped to zero [as adjective]: a zero rate of interest
    More example sentences
    • Since this was a theatrical feature, the chapters will be rated on a scale of zero to four stars.
    • U.S. News has our diversity index at 0.27 on a scale of zero to 1.0.
  • 1.2The temperature corresponding to 0° on the Celsius scale (32° Fahrenheit), marking the freezing point of water: the temperature was below zero
    More example sentences
    • The temperature is well below zero, puddles of water are frozen, and a white frost has formed over the graffiti painted on the ancient bus parked by the roadside.
    • With an average temperature of 60 degrees below zero, any water near the surface of Mars would freeze solid.
    • There were several days of temperatures 20-25 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit.
  • 1.3The temperature corresponding to 0° on the Fahrenheit scale (approximately minus 18° Celsius), considered a very cold temperature, especially for outdoor activities: thirty below zero! See also subzero.
    More example sentences
    • Once they are established in an outdoor garden, primroses can survive temperatures to zero and colder.
    • The arctic fox doesn't even start shivering until about minus 70 below zero.
    • It felt like 28 below zero - too cold for our visitors from the West Coast.
  • 1.4 [usually as adjective] Linguistics The absence of an actual word or morpheme to realize a syntactic or morphological phenomenon: the zero plural in “three sheep.”
  • 1.5The lowest possible amount or level; nothing at all: I rated my chances as zero
    More example sentences
    • Scieh said the zero level of fatalities was ‘encouraging’, although there is no guarantee no one will succumb this year.
    • In health, however, health levels would not be zero if there were no health expenditures that is, no health systems.
    • She was sick of people feeling sorry for her because her confidence level was zero.
  • 1.6 short for zero hour.
  • 1.7 informal A worthless or contemptibly undistinguished person: her husband is an absolute zero

verb (zeroes, zeroing, zeroed)

[with object] Back to top  
  • 1Adjust (an instrument) to zero: zero the counter when the tape has rewound
    More example sentences
    • Once it was zeroed the point of impact remained constant.
    • Pressure transducers were zeroed when each patient was admitted to the study per the manufacturer's instructions.
    • The third and fourth settings on the digital timer should still have been zeroed, just as when the feeder was set originally.
  • 2Set the sights of (a gun) for firing.
    More example sentences
    • At the range, I shoot my Sharps from the bench at 100 yards to zero the rifle and get the base line sight settings.
    • Frankly, I was most interested in seeing if, once the rifle was zeroed, the shotgun barrel would shoot to the same point-of-aim at shotgun distances.
    • For test firing, zeroing your rifle, or informal competition The Rock Jr. is tailor made for success.

Phrasal verbs

zero in

Take aim with a gun or missile: jet fighters zeroed in on the rebel positions
More example sentences
  • Whatever may be the movement of the target in the sea, the missile will zero in on it.
Focus one’s attention: they zeroed in on the clues he gave away about
More example sentences
  • He's zeroed in on the recent scholarly attention Ben Franklin has been enjoying and yoked that with the equally topical subject of academic plagiarism.
  • It zeroed in on these youngsters in each districts, trained them and affiliated them to the Kudumbasree mission.
  • To gain wisdom from life experiences, youngsters ought to receive training on zeroing in on their inherent talents.

zero out

Phase out or reduce to zero: the bill would zero out capital gains taxes
More example sentences
  • Loading in the shot, they calibrated and aimed the weapon, zeroing out the center of the zombie mass.
  • We zeroed out of our budget $4.5 billion that was the Community Development program.


early 17th century: from French zéro or Italian zero, via Old Spanish from Arabic ṣifr 'cipher'.

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