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See also: Zilch



Uncertain. First attested as Zilch, a placeholder surname (compare John Doe) in the American humor magazine Ballyhoo in 1931. Compare the rare German surname Zilch.



zilch (countable and uncountable, plural zilches)

  1. (countable, informal, archaic) A nobody: a person who is worthless in importance or character.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:nonentity
    • 1931 July, Ballyhoo, Vol. I, No. 1, p. 1:
      President Henry P. Zilch. Chairman of the Board Charles D. Zilch. Treasurer Otto Zilch.
    • 1932 February, Ballyhoo, Vol. II, No. 1:
      Bernarr MacZilch [for Bernarr Macfadden] and His Dynamic-Hooey System... The WEAKLING Who Became 'The World's Most Perfect Ass!'
    • 1940, Lester V. Berrey & al., The American Thesaurus of Slang, §184:
      Dinglegoofer, Mr. Zilch, indefinite nicknames.
  2. (uncountable, informal) Nothing, zero.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:nothing
    Her search for decent home-made winter clothes came up with zilch, so she had to get imported stuff.
    • 1991, Judith Arnold, One Good Turn, page 104:
      "If the homeless wind up with zilch," James retorted, veiling his indignation behind a malevolent smile, "it's because they deserve zilch."



zilch (not comparable)

  1. (informal, chiefly US) No, zero, non-existent.
    • 1966, University of South Dakota, Current Slang:
      Zilch, adj. Nothing, zero...
    • 1977 February 3, The Telegraph, p. 14:
      ...gorgeous faces but zilch talent...


zilch (third-person singular simple present zilches, present participle zilching, simple past and past participle zilched)

  1. (informal, US sports) To cause to score nothing, to thoroughly defeat.
    • 1969, University of South Dakota, Current Slang:
      We zilched them on that rubber.
    • 1990 April 2, USA Today, p. 20:
      My favorite film of 1989 got zilched... That would be Field of Dreams.