Definition of zero in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈzɪərəʊ/

cardinal number (plural zeros)

1No quantity or number; nought; 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.
nought, nothing, cipher, nil, 0;
Computing  null character
archaic naught
1.1A point on a scale or instrument from which a positive or negative quantity is reckoned: the gauge dropped to zero [as modifier]: 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.
1.3 [usually as modifier] Linguistics The absence of an actual word or morpheme to realize a syntactic or morphological phenomenon: the zero plural in ‘three sheep’
1.4The 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.
nothing, nil, nothing at all, not a single thing, not anything, none;
Northern English  nowt
informal zilch, nix, sweet Fanny Adams, sweet FA, not a dicky bird
British informal damn all, not a sausage
North American informal zip, zippo, nada, diddly-squat, a goose egg, bupkis
British vulgar slang bugger all, fuck all, sod all
archaic naught, nought
rock bottom, the bottom, the lowest point, the all-time low, as low as one can get, low-water mark, the depths, the nadir
informal the pits
1.5 short for zero hour.
1.6 informal A worthless or contemptibly undistinguished person: her husband is an absolute zero

verb (zeroes, zeroing, zeroed)

[with object]
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.
return to nought, return to zero, adjust to zero point
2Set the sights of (a gun) for firing: the rifle had been zeroed at an elevation of 200
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 rebels' positions
More example sentences
  • Whatever may be the movement of the target in the sea, the missile will zero in on it.
1.1Focus one’s attention: they zeroed in on the clues he dropped about himself
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.
focus on, focus attention on, centre on, concentrate on, home in on, fix on, pinpoint, give prominence to, highlight, spotlight, underline, emphasize
informal zoom in on


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

Words that rhyme with zero

De Niro, hero, Nero, Pierrot, Pinero, Rio de Janeiro, sub-zero

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: zero

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