Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zilch

In trying to find something to write about for Z, the final entry in this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I came across lots of interesting words. I was amazed to find there were lots more “common” words than I expected, given my experience two days ago with X. ;-)

What surprised me the most was the several words meaning “Nothing” that started with Z. For instance, there’s “Zero,” “Zip,” and “Zilch.”

Zero is an easy one as it expresses the concept of “Nothing” in mathematical language.

Zip is a little more difficult to determine why it means “Nothing.” Zip can mean fasten a zipper…which is named for the sound it makes when closing it. Zip can mean fast, which also implies a zipping sound as the fast creature dashes past. Zip can also mean Zest (another Z word), zipping up your world.

The origin of “zip” meaning “zero” is unknown, but probably first used around 1900. How it came to represent such a different thing from the definitions above is a mystery.

Zero and Zip are used in this scene in The Three Amigos, one of my favorite movies:

As an aside, if you’ve never seen “The Three Amigos,” do yourself a favor and watch it. It’ll keep you laughing out loud for the entire movie. One of my top ten favorites!

Okay, back to Z. The words Zip and Zero are all well and good, but there’s a more colorful synonym for “Nothing”: Zilch.

I love the sound of that word. It sounds like something Tim Curry would say.

I remember the first time I heard the word Zilch. It was the title of a song on the Monkees’ album, Headquarters. Check it out here:

So the next time you find yourself tempted to use one of those Z words, don’t go for the boring ones. Use Zilch, say it like Tim Curry, and amaze your friends!

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