Etymology
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zero (n.)

"figure which stands for naught in the Arabic notation," also "the absence of all quantity considered as quantity," c. 1600, from French zéro or directly from Italian zero, from Medieval Latin zephirum, from Arabic sifr "cipher," translation of Sanskrit sunya-m "empty place, desert, naught" (see cipher (n.)).

A brief history of the invention of "zero" can be found here. Meaning "worthless person" is recorded from 1813. As an adjective from 1810. Zero tolerance first recorded 1972, originally U.S. political language. Zero-sum in game theory is from 1944 (von Neumann), indicating that if one player wins X amount the other or others must lose X amount.

zero (v.)

in zero in, 1944, from zero (n.); the image is from instrument adjustment to a setting of "zero" (1909 in this sense, originally in rifle-shooting). Related: Zeroed; zeroing.

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Definitions of zero
1
zero (n.)
a quantity of no importance;
Synonyms: nothing / nil / nix / nada / null / aught / cipher / cypher / goose egg / naught / zilch / zip / zippo
zero (n.)
a mathematical element that when added to another number yields the same number;
Synonyms: " / nought / cipher / cypher
zero (n.)
the point on a scale from which positive or negative numerical quantities can be measured;
Synonyms: zero point
zero (n.)
the sight setting that will cause a projectile to hit the center of the target with no wind blowing;
2
zero (adj.)
having no measurable or otherwise determinable value;
the goal is zero population growth
zero (adj.)
indicating the absence of any or all units under consideration;
a zero score
Synonyms: "
zero (adj.)
indicating an initial point or origin;
zero (adj.)
of or relating to the null set (a set with no members);
3
zero (v.)
adjust (an instrument or device) to zero value;
zero (v.)
adjust (as by firing under test conditions) the zero of (a gun);
He zeroed in his rifle at 200 yards
Synonyms: zero in
From wordnet.princeton.edu