General English



  • A number, whose symbol is 0, which when added or subtracted from another number leaves the latter unchanged. When another number is multiplied by zero the result is zero, and division by zero is considered undefined with few exceptions.
  • A reading, point within a function or curve, position, input, condition, or the like, resulting in a zero value, magnitude, setting, output, state and so on.
  • To set an instrument or meter to a zero reading. Done, for instance, when calibrating or preparing for use.
  • To balance, or otherwise adjust, so as to obtain a zero reading or output. For example, to adjust the components of a bridge to obtain a zero output.
  • A number indicating the initial point, origin, or the like of something. For example, absolute zero.
  • Having a value that equals zero, or that which is too low to distinguish from zero.
  • input An input, such as that of a flip-flop or logic gate, corresponding to a zero state. Also called logic zero input, or logic low input.


  • verb to ensure that a weapon is accurate, by firing a few rounds at a target and then adjusting the sights as required

Origin & History of “zero”

In common with many other English mathematical terms, zero comes ultimately from Arabic. Its distant ancestor is Arabic sifr, a noun use of an adjective meaning ‘empty’, which also produced English cipher. It passed into English via Old Spanish zero and French zéro.