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zap (zăp) Informal
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v. zapped, zap·ping, zaps
v.tr.
1.
a. To strike (an object or target) with a beam of energy, an electric current, or supernatural power: In the movie, the alien zaps the scientist with a ray gun.
b. To expose to radiation, as to cook or examine: zap food in a microwave; zap luggage with x-rays at a security checkpoint.
c. In science fiction and fantasy, to transport (a person or thing) into another place or time instantaneously, as with an energy beam.
2.
a. To destroy or kill: "when the dinosaurs got zapped by whatever zapped the dinosaurs" (Laura Kasischke).
b. To deplete or obliterate: "His personal funds were zapped in the merger" (Patricia Haley).
3. To have a sudden and powerful effect on: "His ... narrative runs marvelously on and on, zapping the reader with often surprising and ... painful glimpses" (Publishers Weekly).
v.intr.
1. To move swiftly; zoom: zapped into the kitchen for a snack.
2. To use a remote control to turn a television set on or off or to switch channels.
n.
1. A burst or beam of energy, electric current, or other power: a zap of 120 volts.
2. A sudden and powerful effect: a zap of fear; a zap of insight.
interj.
Used to indicate a sudden occurrence.

[Imitative.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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