Rogue Words from A to Z: Zeroing In on Zombies

A to Z Letter ZThis is the final post in this month’s Rogue Words series. I’ve had a lot of fun doing these, and I’m sorry to see them go. In fact, I’m thinking about making them a regular feature of my blog. If you have an opinion on whether you’d like me to round up more rogue words in the future, please feel free to leave a comment!

And now, on to today’s word…the deceptively simple-looking zero.

Zero can be used as an adjective, a verb, or a noun.

Zero As an Adjective

When zero is used as an adjective (which is rare), the noun it describes must be plural (or be a non-countable noun, like awareness).

Zachary charged through the door of Professor Z’s office, dragging a girl with him. “Something’s really wrong with Zoe, Professor! I had zero ideas about what to do, so I brought her to you. Can you help?”

Zoe stood where Zachary had left her, in front of Professor Z’s desk. Her hair was scraggly and her face had a grey tinge. She stared at the Professor blankly. It was clear that she had zero awareness of what was going on.

Zero As a Verb

When zero is used as a verb, you sometimes (but not always) need to add an e. Forms of the verb zero include zero, zeroes, zeroed, and zeroing.

“Hmmm,” said Professor Z in her reassuring way. She walked around Zoe, studying her from all angles. Zoe didn’t react at all, even when the Professor poked her in the arm.

“I said to myself, Professor Z is someone who always zeroes in on the problem,” said Zachary. He bounced from foot to foot. “I’ve been thinking…do you think Zoe’s turning into a zombie? That would be so zany, but I’m not sure what else to think!”

“Do you see this?” the Professor asked Zachary. She pointed at Zoe’s watch. Zachary bent to look.

Zero As a Noun

When zero is used a third-person verb, you write it as zeroes. But when zero is used as a plural noun, you don’t use an e: it’s spelled zeros.

The watch was set on a timer, and it was counting down to zero. Only five seconds to go…

“Oh no! In five…no, four seconds, she’s going to turn into a zombie! I knew it!”

“I don’t think so,” said Professor Z.

The time counted down until there were only zeros: 00:00:00. The watch started beeping.

Β Zoe stirred and blinked. “It’s done? I’m all finished?”

“Yes, dear,” said the Professor gently. You can go to bed now.” Zoe shuffled out of the room.

Zachary stared after her. “What was that about?”

“Just as I suspected,” said the Professor. “It’s now May first. The A to Z Blogging Challenge is over, and Zoe can finally get some sleep.”


Congratulations to everyone who made it through the A to Z Challenge! Thanks so much for reading, liking, and commenting on my posts. πŸ™‚

For those who are new to my blog, I hope you will continue to visit after A to Z. I will be posting my A to Z Reflections post next Monday, and then will go back to my usual weekly posting schedule. I post a mix of creative writing and grammar tips, interviews with others about communication (Conversation Corner), and in-depth reviews of writing resources (DBW Reviews).

See you on the other side! Off now to get some sleep…


Β© Sue Archer and Doorway Between Worlds, 2015

57 thoughts on “Rogue Words from A to Z: Zeroing In on Zombies

    1. Nice to meet you, too, roughwighting. (I love that name!) I’m happy you enjoyed my post. πŸ™‚ That’s great that you found me through Carrie, she has such a great community on her blog. Looking forward to visiting yours as soon as I get a chance!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Not sure I knew the difference in the use of zeros and zeroes, so thanks for that. I think a rogue word post now and then would be a jolly good thing – I laughed at the punchline of that one. Zombies made it into my post today too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh…zombies in Glasgow, that sounds dangerous! Which means of course I will need to check them out!

      And I’m glad you liked the punchline. πŸ™‚ I think we’re all feeling a bit punchy at the moment after all that blogging!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m really glad to have come across your wonderful blog during A-to-Z challenge. As a student of English as a foreign language, I find your theme very interesting.
    I’ve bookmarked your blog, so that I can come back and learn more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Romi. I really appreciate the compliment, and I’m happy you found useful information on my blog.

      I have learned so much from your blog as well. I’ve always been intrigued by kanji, and your explanations were clear and entertaining. I will be sure to be back for more. πŸ™‚


  3. Of course I will definitely be back now that we are done with the alphabet! I learned a lot from this theme from you, and I loved the examples you presented along the way. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yes, right now I would be happy to never see the alphabet again. πŸ˜‰ Seriously, it will be great to have more time to catch up on your fantastic posts!


    1. Congrats on surviving it as well, Lori! I guess you’re an old hand at it now. πŸ˜‰ And thanks for the heads up on Lillian’s reblog – I really appreciate your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I didn’t even know the difference between the verb and the noun.
    Thanks so much for another useful, informative post.

    And congrats on finishing the challenge. It was a nice ride. I’ll sure be back for more reads πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved every post I read, and I’m delighted to say that I didn’t get to them all, so I have future fun in store. The way you took your rogue words and intertwined them in the story was a wonderful writing limitation that was like a springboard into creative flow. Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Please continue the feature! But, I have a question, if, as a noun, plural zero is written zeros, why is plural hero written heroes? πŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes to more Rogue Word features!! πŸ™‚

    And you know, I don’t think I knew that it’s “zeroes” as a verb and “zeros” as a pluralized noun. I guess I assumed they were interchangeable? Fascinating! Just when I think I’ve got one of these int the bag, you surprise me with a fun fact I didn’t know!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Congrats to you as well, Rhonda! I thought of zero that way, too, but after digging into the different spellings I started realizing zero does a lot of things. πŸ™‚ Who knew?


  8. This was one informative post, Sue. Little did I realize that this little word had so many intricate rules. I think some of them have been picked up through reading, because as I read through your story I asked myself, “Now would I have glossed over that word had it been spelled any other way?” The answer is I don’t know. Which makes me think that at least by knowing this word is a tricky one, I will surely return to your post to double check I’ve used it correctly.
    I so hope you have a little time to recover. You’ve done a brilliant job with the challenge. I’m better for it. Thanks, Sue! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As always, I really appreciate your comments, Shelley! It’s a lovely weather weekend right now, so I am indeed taking some down time. I’ll catch you later. πŸ™‚


  9. It’s interesting how different the meanings of zero as an adjective and as a verb on – to zero on something seems to have nothing to with the number zero. unless I’m missing something? I think your rogue words series is great, definitely keep doing it, if you weren’t already planning to. I’ve picked lots of interesting bits and pieces and I’ll defintely be referring back to a couple of your posts in the future when I get stuck.
    Have you thought of making a tab for the rogue word category? For anyone (and me!) who wants to come back and refer to a particular post?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Celine, as we chatted about, the Rogue Words tab is on the left side in my new blog layout. Sometimes I find it hard to navigate all of these different layouts!

      Apparently to “zero in” on something comes from adjusting an instrument to a setting of zero, which was originally used in rifle-shooting. So it is related, but has evolved over time. πŸ™‚

      Glad to hear my posts are useful references for you!


      1. Yes, I’ve seen it now. That was a face-palm moment if ever there was one. I don’t know how I missed it. Anyhoo… πŸ˜‰
        Oh that’s fascinating about the origin of the zero word. I love learning where words come from, they often have such interesting stories behind their meaning!

        Liked by 1 person

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