Word of the Week: Zero

Zero is a noun and is defined as the arithmetical symbol 0 denoting the absence of all magnitude or quantity or the number between the set of all negative numbers and the set of all positive numbers. First used in 1598, the word zero derives from Italian zero, which traces back to Latin zephirum and from Arabic ṣifr. 

Zero as a numerical digit is written as a circle “O” or ellipse “0”. The idea of zero dates back to 3 BC in Mesopotamia. The symbol then traveled from Mesopotamia to India and then to the Islamic countries around the 8 century AD. Arab merchants brought zero to Europe around the 12th century AD through Greece and eventually to Rome. In fact, the Romans had no word or symbol for zero until the idea was brought from the eastern countries. Interestingly, the Mayans, a Mesoamerican civilization, invented zero independently around 4 AD, but used it as a placeholder in their calendars rather than in equations.

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“Zero.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster

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