British Library Cataloguing Data
The concise Oxford dictionary of current English.--8th ed.
1. English language--Dictionaries
I. Allen, R. E. (Robert Edward), 1944-423
ISBN 0-19-861243-5 thumb index
ISBN 0-19-861200-1 plain
Z n. (also z) (pl. Zs or Z's) 1 the twenty-sixth letter of the
alphabet. 2 (usu. z) Algebra the third unknown quantity. 3
Geom. the third coordinate. 4 Chem. atomic number.
n. an Italian sweet of whipped and heated egg yolks, sugar, and
(esp. Marsala) wine. [It.]
zaffre n. (US zaffer) an impure cobalt oxide used as a blue pigment.
[It. zaffera or F safre]
zag n. a sharp change of direction in a zigzag course. [ZIGZAG]
ZANU abbr. Zimbabwe African National Union.
zany adj. & n. --adj. (zanier, zaniest) comically idiotic; crazily
ridiculous. --n. 1 a buffoon or jester. 2 hist. an attendant
clown awkwardly mimicking a chief clown in shows; a merry
andrew. ЬЬzanily adv. zaniness n. [F zani or It. zan(n)i,
Venetian form of Gianni, Giovanni John]
zap v., n., & int. sl. --v. (zapped, zapping) 1 tr. a kill or
destroy; deal a sudden blow to. b hit forcibly (zapped the ball
over the net). 2 intr. & tr. move quickly and vigorously. 3
tr. overwhelm emotionally. 4 tr. Computing erase or change (an
item in a program). 5 intr. (foll. by through) fast-wind a
videotape to skip a section. --n. 1 energy, vigour. 2 a
strong emotional effect. --int. expressing the sound or impact
of a bullet, ray gun, etc., or any sudden event. [imit.]
zapateado n. (pl. -os) 1 a flamenco dance with rhythmic stamping of the
feet. 2 this technique or action. [Sp. f. zapato shoe]
zeal n. 1 earnestness or fervour in advancing a cause or rendering
service. 2 hearty and persistent endeavour. [ME zele f. eccl.L
zelus f. Gk zelos]
zealot n. 1 an uncompromising or extreme partisan; a fanatic. 2
(Zealot) hist. a member of an ancient Jewish sect aiming at a
world Jewish theocracy and resisting the Romans until AD 70.
ЬЬzealotry n. [eccl.L zelotes f. Gk zelotes (as ZEAL)]
zealous adj. full of zeal; enthusiastic. ЬЬzealously adv. zealousness
zebec (also zebeck) var. of XEBEC.
zebra n. 1 any of various African quadrupeds, esp. Equus burchelli,
related to the ass and horse, with black and white stripes. 2
(attrib.) with alternate dark and pale stripes. Ьzebra crossing
Brit. a striped street-crossing where pedestrians have
precedence over vehicles. ЬЬzebrine adj. [It. or Port. f.
zebu n. a humped ox, Bos indicus, of India, E. Asia, and Africa. [F
z‚bu, of unkn. orig.]
Zech. abbr. Zechariah (Old Testament).
zed n. Brit. the letter Z. [F zЉde f. LL zeta f. Gk ZETA]
zedoary n. an aromatic ginger-like substance made from the rootstock of
E. Indian plants of the genus Curcuma and used in medicine,
perfumery, and dyeing. [ME f. med.L zedoarium f. Pers. zidwar]
zee n. US the letter Z. [17th c.: var. of ZED]
n. Physics the splitting of the spectrum line into several
components by a magnetic field. [P. Zeeman, Du. physicist d.
zein n. Biochem. the principal protein of maize. [Zea the generic
name of maize + -IN]
Zeitgeist n. 1 the spirit of the times. 2 the trend of thought and
feeling in a period. [G f. Zeit time + Geist spirit]
Zen n. a form of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of
meditation and intuition. ЬЬZenist n. (also Zennist). [Jap.,
zenana n. the part of a house for the seclusion of women of high-caste
families in India and Iran. [Hind. zenana f. Pers. zanana f.
Zend n. an interpretation of the Avesta, each Zend being part of the
Zend-Avesta. ЬZend-Avesta the Zoroastrian sacred writings of
the Avesta or text and Zend or commentary. [Pers. zand
n. a set of 25 cards each with one of five different symbols,
used in ESP research. [K. E. Zener, Amer. psychologist b.
zenith n. 1 the part of the celestial sphere directly above an
observer (opp. NADIR). 2 the highest point in one's fortunes;
a time of great prosperity etc. Ьzenith distance an arc
intercepted between a celestial body and its zenith; the
complement of a body's altitude. [ME f. OF cenit or med.L cenit
ult. f. Arab. samt (ar-ra' s) path (over the head)]
zenithal adj. of or relating to a zenith. Ьzenithal projection a
projection of part of a globe on to a plane tangential to the
centre of the part, showing the correct directions of all points
from the centre.
zeolite n. each of a number of minerals consisting mainly of hydrous
silicates of calcium, sodium, and aluminium, able to act as
cation exchangers. ЬЬzeolitic adj. [Sw. & G zeolit f. Gk zeo
boil + -LITE (from their characteristic swelling and fusing
under the blowpipe)]
Zeph. abbr. Zephaniah (Old Testament).
zephyr n. 1 literary a mild gentle wind or breeze. 2 a fine cotton
fabric. 3 an athlete's thin gauzy jersey. [F z‚phyr or L
zephyrus f. Gk zephuros (god of the) west wind]
Zeppelin n. hist. a German large dirigible airship of the early 20th
c., orig. for military use. [Count F. von Zeppelin, Ger. airman
d. 1917, its first constructor]
zero n. & v. --n. (pl. -os) 1 a the figure 0; nought. b no
quantity or number; nil. 2 a point on the scale of an
instrument from which a positive or negative quantity is
reckoned. 3 (attrib.) having a value of zero; no, not any (zero
population growth). 4 (in full zero-hour) a the hour at which a
planned, esp. military, operation is timed to begin. b a
crucial moment. 5 the lowest point; a nullity or nonentity.
--v.tr. (-oes, -oed) 1 adjust (an instrument etc.) to zero
point. 2 set the sights of (a gun) for firing. Ьzero in on 1
take aim at. 2 focus one's attention on. zero option a
disarmament proposal for the total removal of certain types of
weapons on both sides. zero-rated on which no value added tax
is charged. zero-sum (of a game, political situation, etc.) in
which whatever is gained by one side is lost by the other so
that the net change is always zero. [F z‚ro or It. zero f.
OSp. f. Arab. sifr CIPHER]
zeroth adj. immediately preceding what is regarded as 'first' in a
zest n. 1 piquancy; a stimulating flavour or quality. 2 a keen
enjoyment or interest. b (often foll. by for) relish. c gusto
(entered into it with zest). 3 a scraping of orange or lemon
peel as flavouring. ЬЬzestful adj. zestfully adv. zestfulness
n. zesty adj. (zestier, zestiest). [F zeste orange or lemon
peel, of unkn. orig.]
zeta n. the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet (Z). [Gk zeta]
zetetic adj. proceeding by inquiry. [Gk zetetikos f. zeteo seek]
zeugma n. a figure of speech using a verb or adjective with two nouns,
to one of which it is strictly applicable while the word
appropriate to the other is not used (e.g. with weeping eyes
and [sc. grieving] hearts) (cf. SYLLEPSIS). ЬЬzeugmatic adj.
[L f. Gk zeugma -atos f. zeugnumi to yoke, zugon yoke]
zibet n. (US zibeth) 1 an Asian or Indian civet, Viverra zibetha. 2
its scent. [med.L zibethum: see CIVET]
n. = AZT. [chem. name azidothymidine]
ziff n. Austral. sl. a beard. [20th c.: orig. unkn.]
ziggurat n. a rectangular stepped tower in ancient Mesopotamia,
surmounted by a temple. [Assyr. ziqquratu pinnacle]
zigzag n., adj., adv., & v. --n. 1 a line or course having abrupt
alternate right and left turns. 2 (often in pl.) each of these
turns. --adj. having the form of a zigzag; alternating right
and left. --adv. with a zigzag course. --v.intr. (zigzagged,
zigzagging) move in a zigzag course. ЬЬzigzaggedly adv. [F f.
zilch n. esp. US sl. nothing. [20th c.: orig. uncert.]
zillah n. an administrative district in India, containing several
parganas. [Hind. dilah division]
zillion n. colloq. an indefinite large number. ЬЬzillionth adj. & n.
[Z (perh. = unknown quantity) + MILLION]
zinc n. Chem. a white metallic element occurring naturally as zinc
blende, and used as a component of brass, in galvanizing sheet
iron, in electric batteries, and in printing-plates. °Symb.:
Zn. Ьflowers of zinc = zinc oxide. zinc blende see BLENDE.
zinc chloride a white crystalline deliquescent solid used as a
preservative and flux. zinc oxide a powder used as a white
pigment and in medicinal ointments. zinc sulphate a white
water-soluble compound used as a mordant. ЬЬzinced adj. [G
Zink, of unkn. orig.]
zinco n. & v. --n. (pl. -os) = ZINCOGRAPH. --v.tr. & intr. (-oes,
-oed) = ZINCOGRAPH. [abbr.]
n. & v. --n. 1 a zinc plate with a design etched in relief on
it for printing from. 2 a print taken from this. --v. 1 tr. &
intr. etch on zinc. 2 tr. reproduce (a design) in this way.
zincotype n. = ZINCOGRAPH.
zing n. & v. colloq. --n. vigour, energy. --v.intr. move swiftly
or with a shrill sound. ЬЬzingy adj. (zingier, zingiest).
Zingaro n. (pl. Zingari) a gypsy. [It.]
zinger n. US sl. an outstanding person or thing.
zinnia n. a composite plant of the genus Zinnia, with showy rayed
flowers of deep red and other colours. [J. G. Zinn, Ger.
physician and botanist d. 1759]
Zion n. (also Sion) 1 the hill of Jerusalem on which the city of
David was built. 2 a the Jewish people or religion. b the
Christian Church. 3 (in Christian thought) the Kingdom of God
in Heaven. [OE f. eccl.L Sion f. Heb. siy“n]
Zionism n. a movement (orig.) for the reestablishment and (now) the
development of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel. ЬЬZionist
zip n. & v. --n. 1 a light fast sound, as of a bullet passing
through air. 2 energy, vigour. 3 esp. Brit. a (in full
zip-fastener) a fastening device of two flexible strips with
interlocking projections closed or opened by pulling a slide
along them. b (attrib.) having a zip-fastener (zip bag). --v.
(zipped, zipping) 1 tr. & intr. (often foll. by up) fasten with
a zip-fastener. 2 intr. move with zip or at high speed.
Zip code n. US a system of postal codes consisting of five-digit
numbers. [zone improvement plan]
zipper n. & v. esp. US --n. a zip-fastener. --v.tr. (often foll. by
up) fasten with a zipper. ЬЬzippered adj.
zircon n. a zirconium silicate of which some translucent varieties are
cut into gems (see HYACINTH 4, JARGON(2)). [G Zirkon: cf.
zirconium n. Chem. a grey metallic element occurring naturally in zircon
and used in various industrial applications. °Symb.: Zr.
[mod.L f. ZIRCON + -IUM]
zit n. esp. US sl. a pimple. [20th c.: orig. unkn.]
zither n. a musical instrument consisting of a flat wooden soundbox
with numerous strings stretched across it, placed horizontally
and played with the fingers and a plectrum. ЬЬzitherist n. [G
zizz n. & v. colloq. --n. 1 a whizzing or buzzing sound. 2 a
short sleep. --v.intr. 1 make a whizzing sound. 2 doze or
zodiac n. 1 a a belt of the heavens limited by lines about 8ш from the
ecliptic on each side, including all apparent positions of the
sun, moon, and planets as known to ancient astronomers, and
divided into twelve equal parts (signs of the zodiac), each
formerly containing the similarly named constellation but now by
precession of the equinoxes coinciding with the constellation
that bears the name of the preceding sign: Aries, Taurus,
Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius,
Capricorn(us), Aquarius, Pisces. b a diagram of these signs. 2
a complete cycle, circuit, or compass. [ME f. OF zodiaque f. L
zodiacus f. Gk zoidiakos f. zoidion sculptured animal-figure,
dimin. of zoion animal]
zodiacal adj. of or in the zodiac. Ьzodiacal light a luminous area of
sky shaped like a tall triangle occasionally seen in the east
before sunrise or in the west after sunset, esp. in the
Tropics. [F (as ZODIAC)]
zoetrope n. hist. an optical toy in the form of a cylinder with a
series of pictures on the inner surface which give an impression
of continuous motion when viewed through slits with the cylinder
rotating. [irreg. f. Gk zoe life + -tropos turning]
zoic adj. 1 of or relating to animals. 2 Geol. (of rock etc.)
containing fossils; with traces of animal or plant life. [prob.
back-form. f. AZOIC]
n. parallel lines made to appear not parallel by short oblique
intersecting lines. [J. K. F. Z”llner, Ger. physicist d. 1882]
n. hist. a customs union, esp. of German States in the 19th c.
zombie n. 1 colloq. a dull or apathetic person. 2 a corpse said to be
revived by witchcraft. [W.Afr. zumbi fetish]
zonation n. distribution in zones, esp. (Ecol.) of plants into zones
characterized by the dominant species.
zonda n. a hot dusty north wind in Argentina. [Amer. Sp.]
zone n. & v. --n. 1 an area having particular features, properties,
purpose, or use (danger zone; erogenous zone; smokeless zone).
2 any well-defined region of more or less beltlike form. 3 a an
area between two exact or approximate concentric circles. b a
part of the surface of a sphere enclosed between two parallel
planes, or of a cone or cylinder etc., between such planes
cutting it perpendicularly to the axis. 4 (in full time zone) a
range of longitudes where a common standard time is used. 5
Geol. etc. a range between specified limits of depth, height,
etc., esp. a section of strata distinguished by characteristic
fossils. 6 Geog. any of five divisions of the earth bounded by
circles parallel to the equator (see FRIGID, TEMPERATE, TORRID).
7 an encircling band or stripe distinguishable in colour,
texture, or character from the rest of the object encircled. 8
archaic a belt or girdle worn round the body. --v.tr. 1
encircle as or with a zone. 2 arrange or distribute by zones.
3 assign as or to a particular area. ЬЬzonal adj. zoning n.
(in sense 3 of v.). [F zone or L zona girdle f. Gk zone]
zonk v. & n. sl. --v. 1 tr. hit or strike. 2 (foll. by out) a tr.
overcome with sleep; intoxicate. b intr. fall heavily asleep.
--n. (often as int.) the sound of a blow or heavy impact.
zoo n. a zoological garden. [abbr.]
zoo- comb. form of animals or animal life. [Gk zoio- f. zoion
n. the branch of zoology dealing with the geographical
distribution of animals. ЬЬzoogeographic adj. zoogeographical
adj. zoogeographically adv.
zoography n. descriptive zoology.
zooid n. 1 a more or less independent invertebrate organism arising
by budding or fission. 2 a distinct member of an invertebrate
colony. ЬЬzooidal adj. [formed as ZOO- + -OID]
zoolatry n. the worship of animals.
disp. adj. of or relating to zoology. Ьzoological garden (or
gardens) a public garden or park with a collection of animals
for exhibition and study. ЬЬzoologically adv.
zoology disp. n. the scientific study of animals, esp. with reference
to their structure, physiology, classification, and
distribution. ЬЬzoologist n. [mod.L zoologia (as ZOO-, -LOGY)]
zoom v. & n. --v. 1 intr. move quickly, esp. with a buzzing sound.
2 a intr. cause an aeroplane to mount at high speed and a steep
angle. b tr. cause (an aeroplane) to do this. 3 a intr. (of a
camera) close up rapidly from a long shot to a close-up. b tr.
cause (a lens or camera) to do this. --n. 1 an aeroplane's
steep climb. 2 a zooming camera shot. Ьzoom lens a lens
allowing a camera to zoom by varying the focal length. [imit.]
zoomancy n. divination from the appearances or behaviour of animals.
adj. 1 dealing with or represented in animal forms. 2 having
gods of animal form. ЬЬzoomorphism n.
zoonosis n. any of various diseases which can be transmitted to humans
from animals. [ZOO- + Gk nosos disease]
zoophyte n. a plantlike animal, esp. a coral, sea anemone, or sponge.
ЬЬzoophytic adj. [Gk zoophuton (as ZOO-, -PHYTE)]
n. plankton consisting of animals.
zoospore n. a spore of fungi, algae, etc. capable of motion.
zootomy n. the dissection or anatomy of animals.
zoot suit n. colloq. a man's suit with a long loose jacket and
high-waisted tapering trousers. [rhyming on SUIT]
zori n. (pl. zoris) a Japanese straw or rubber etc. sandal. [Jap.]
zoril n. (also zorille) a flesh-eating African mammal, Ictonyx
striatus, of the skunk and the weasel family. [F zorille f. Sp.
zorrilla dimin. of zorro fox]
adj. & n. (also Zarathustrian) --adj. of or relating to
Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) or the dualistic religious system
taught by him or his followers in the Zend-Avesta, based on the
concept of a conflict between a spirit of light and good and a
spirit of darkness and evil. --n. a follower of Zoroaster.
ЬЬZoroastrianism n. [L Zoroastres f. Gk Zoroastres f. Avestan
Zarathustra, Persian founder of the religion in the 6th c. BC]
Zouave n. a member of a French light-infantry corps originally formed
of Algerians and retaining their oriental uniform. [F f.
Zouaoua, name of a tribe]
zounds int. archaic expressing surprise or indignation. [(God)' s
wounds (i.e. those of Christ on the Cross)]
zygo- comb. form joining, pairing. [Gk zugo- f. zugon yoke]
adj. & n. --adj. (of a bird) having two toes pointing forward
and two backward. --n. such a bird. ЬЬzygodactylous adj.
zygoma n. (pl. zygomata) the bony arch of the cheek formed by
connection of the zygomatic and temporal bones. [Gk zugoma
-atos f. zugon yoke]
zygomatic adj. of or relating to the zygoma. Ьzygomatic arch = ZYGOMA.
zygomatic bone the bone that forms the prominent part of the
adj. (also zygomorphous) (of a flower) divisible into similar
halves only by one plane of symmetry.
zygospore n. a thick-walled spore formed by certain fungi.
zygote n. Biol. a cell formed by the union of two gametes. ЬЬzygotic
adj. zygotically adv. [Gk zugotos yoked f. zugoo to yoke]
zymase n. the enzyme fraction in yeast which catalyses the alcoholic
fermentation of glucose. [F f. Gk zume leaven]
zymology n. Chem. the scientific study of fermentation. ЬЬzymological
adj. zymologist n. [as ZYMASE + -LOGY]
zymosis n. archaic fermentation. [mod.L f. Gk zumosis (as ZYMASE)]
zymotic adj. archaic of or relating to fermentation. Ьzymotic disease
archaic an epidemic, endemic, contagious, infectious, or
sporadic disease regarded as caused by the multiplication of
germs introduced from outside. [Gk zumotikos (as ZYMOSIS)]
zymurgy n. the branch of applied chemistry dealing with the use of
fermentation in brewing etc. [Gk zume leaven, after metallurgy]