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From zip (to move in haste; to make (something) move quickly) +‎ -y (suffix forming adjectives meaning ‘having the quality of’).[1]



zippy (comparative zippier, superlative zippiest)

  1. (informal) Energetic and lively.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:active, Thesaurus:lively
    Antonyms: see Thesaurus:inactive
    • 1918 September 7, “Three Hits from Song Headquarters [advertisement]”, in John C[hristian] Freund, editor, The Music Trades, volume LVI, number 10, New York, N.Y.: The Music Trades Co., →ISSN, →OCLC, page 44:
      Fun is the doughboy's pal—that's why he wrote and sings "K-K-K-Katy"—the song of songs, with a zippy, catchy melody and those beautifully simple words stammered by Katy's tongue-tied beau.
    • 1935, Harry Carr, “The East A-calling”, in Los Angeles: City of Dreams, New York, N.Y., London: D[aniel] Appleton-Century Company, →OCLC, page 218:
      [T]he rising wind, cool and zippy from the far ice floes of Bering Straits— [...]
    • 1935 January 12, Alexandra Kropotkin, “To the Ladies!”, in Fulton Oursler, editor, Liberty, volume 12, number 2, New York, N.Y.: Liberty Publishing, →OCLC, page 48, column 1:
      Fine department stores showing the zippiest of embroidered gloves imported from Scandinavia and the fluffiest of knitted dresses imported from Wisconsin.
    • 1956 June, “For July—Safety, Fun, New Party Ideas”, in Leslie E. Troeger, editor, National 4-H News, volume XXXIV, number 6, Chicago, Ill.: National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, →OCLC, page 24, column 3:
      Since July is National Hot Dog Month and National Picnic Month, why not have a 4th of July picnic? A mighty tempting way to fix zippy hot dogs is to slit open one side, insert a piece of cheese, wrap with bacon, hold together with a toothpick and broil over a grill or in the oven.
    • 1995, David Howell, “The Asian Phenomenon: Do We Even Know What Has Already Occurred?”, in Easternisation: Eastern Power and Its Impact on the West (Arguments; 4), London: Demos, →ISBN, page 4:
      Meanwhile, New Zealand has emerged as one of the world's strongest and zippiest modern economies, with a respected currency and magnetic attraction to new industrial investment.
    • 1997, “Where Leaders Speak”, in Reliable Sources: The National Press Club in the American Century, Paducah, Ky.: Turner Publishing Company, →ISBN, page 24:
      [Gil] Klein got executive chef Curtis Eargle to create the Mark Russell Sandwich. It had a good dose of ham, some turkey, smoky gouda cheese (as a reminder of the smoky Marquis Lounge where Russell played and joked for years), spicy coleslaw and zippy mustard, sandwiched between piano keys of crusty ivory sourdough and ebony pumpernickel breads.
    • 2002, Laurie Ouellette, “The Quest to Cultivate”, in Viewers Like You?: How Public TV Failed the People, New York, N.Y., Chichester, West Sussex: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page 97:
      [John] Macy did not mention that the zippy, educational program for kids could not have been less like the slow-moving documentary for adults.
    • 2018 December 12, Charles Bramesco, “A Spoonful of Nostalgia Helps the Calculated Mary Poppins Returns Go Down”, in The A.V. Club[1], archived from the original on 24 May 2019:
      [T]he zippy musical numbers in which Mary Poppins (a stiff-lipped Emily Blunt) whisks cherubs Annabel, John, and Georgie (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson, respectively) away into colorful hyperreal fantasias impress.
  2. (informal) Quick, speedy.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:speedy
    Antonyms: see Thesaurus:slow
    • 1989, Bill Bryson, chapter 7, in The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-town America, New York, N.Y., Grand Rapids, Mich.: Harper & Row, →ISBN, page 70:
      Apart from anything else, the zippier Northern cadences meant the radio stations could pack in three or four commercials in the time it would take the average Southerner to clear his throat.
    • 2007, Katrina Blowers, “French Women Must Get Fat”, in Mary Trewby, editor, Tuning Out: My Quarter-life Crisis, Millers Point, N.S.W., London: Pier 9, Murdoch Books, →ISBN:
      He had pored over the websites of the different European car manufacturers, wooed at first by the Beemers, Audis and Saabs before admitting we had a restricted budget. He eventually chose an economical but zippy Renault hatchback.
    • 2008, Selene Yeager, “Finding the Right Ride: How to Find Your Dream Bike … Whatever Your Dreams”, in Every Woman’s Guide to Cycling: [], New York, N.Y.: New American Library, →ISBN:
      All-Mountain: [...] They're generally not quite as zippy as cross-country mountain bikes (though they're still fast), but they're more plush so you can spend long days in the saddle without an aching behind.
    • 2012, Steve N. G. Howell, “Hawaiian Petrel”, in Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide, Princeton, N.J., Woodstock, Oxfordshire: Princeton University Press, →ISBN, page 218, column 1:
      Observers very familiar with one or both forms may notice that Hawaiian Petrel appears a little smaller and has a "zippier" flight than larger and more leisurely Galapagos Petrel.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ zippy, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1933; zippy, adj.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]