c. 1847, short for Zoological Gardens of the London Zoological Society, established 1828 in Regent's Park to house the society's collection of wild animals. The first three letters taken as one syllable. "From a mere vulgarism, this corruption has passed into wide colloquial use" [Century Dictionary]. Slang meaning "crowded and chaotic place" first recorded 1935.
updated on April 15, 2014