French or Italian; French zéro, from Italian zero, from Medieval Latin zephirum, from Arabic ṣifr
The word zero came via French zéro from Venetian zero, which (together with cypher) came via Italian zefiro from Arabic صفر, ṣafira = "it was empty", ṣifr = "zero", "nothing". The first known English use was in 1598.
In 976 AD the Persian encyclopedist Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Khwarizmi, in his "Keys of the Sciences", remarked that if, in a calculation, no number appears in the place of tens, then a little circle should be used "to keep the rows". This circle was called صفر (ṣifr, "empty") in Arabic language. That was the earliest mention of the name ṣifr that eventually became zero.
Italian zefiro already meant "west wind" from Latin and Greek zephyrus; this may have influenced the spelling when transcribing Arabic ṣifr. The Italian mathematician Fibonacci (c.1170–1250), who grew up in North Africa and is credited with introducing the decimal system to Europe, used the term zephyrum. This became zefiro in Italian, which was contracted to zero in Venetian.
As the decimal zero and its new mathematics spread from the Arabic world to Europe in the Middle Ages, words derived from ṣifr and zephyrus came to refer to calculation, as well as to privileged knowledge and secret codes. According to Ifrah, "in thirteenth-century Paris, a 'worthless fellow' was called a '... cifre en algorisme', i.e., an 'arithmetical nothing'." From ṣifr also came French chiffre = "digit", "figure", "number", chiffrer = "to calculate or compute", chiffré = "encrypted". Today, the word in Arabic is still ṣifr, and cognates of ṣifr are common in the languages of Europe and southwest Asia.
There are different words used for the number or concept of zero depending on the context. For the simple notion of lacking, the words nothing and none are often used, while nought, naught and aught are archaic and poetic forms with the same meaning. Several sports have specific words for zero, such as nil in football, love in tennis and a duck in cricket. In British English, it is often called oh in the context of telephone numbers. Slang words for zero include zip, zilch, nada, scratch and even duck egg or goose egg.
- b : additive identity; specifically : the number between the set of all negative numbers and the set of all positive numbers
- c : a value of an independent variable that makes a function equal to zero <+2 and −2 are zeros of f(x)=x2−4>
- 2:a (1) : the point of departure in reckoning; specifically : the point from which the graduation of a scale (as of a thermometer) begins (2) : the temperature represented by the zero mark on a thermometer
- b : the setting or adjustment of the sights of a firearm that causes it to shoot to point of aim at a desired range
- b : the lowest point : nadir
- 5: something arbitrarily or conveniently designated zero
0 (zero is both a number and the numerical digit used to represent that number in numerals. It fulfills a central role in mathematics as the additive identity of the integers, real numbers, and many other algebraic structures. As a digit, 0 is used as a placeholder in place value systems. In the English language, 0 may be called zero, nought or (US) naught /ˈnɔːt/, nil, or — in contexts where at least one adjacent digit distinguishes it from the letter "O" — oh or o /ˈoʊ/. Informal or slang terms for zero include zilch and zip. Ought or aught /ˈɔːt/ has also been used historically. (See Names for the number 0 in English.)