Definition of zap in English:



  • 1[with object] Destroy or obliterate.

    ‘zap the enemy's artillery before it can damage your core units’
    ‘it's vital to zap stress fast’
    • ‘The grapefruit-sized tumor was zapped with chemotherapy, radiation and relentless courage.’
    • ‘In December, doctors zapped Hannah's tumor with the highest possible doses.’
    • ‘It's heaped full of chlorophyll, which zaps halitosis fast.’
    • ‘You need to have top-flight shooting skills to zap the constantly moving targets that are your enemy.’
    • ‘California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been zapped from the official websites of his Austria birthplace of Graz.’
    • ‘Science has wiped out many killer diseases and may soon zap the rest.’
    • ‘The stone was zapped and it's passing, so that's good.’
    • ‘It zapped the liquid and suddenly there was steam.’
    • ‘Technologically primitive Surrey suburbanites were zapped by future war weaponry; it was a horribly unequal contest.’
    • ‘I've spotted a grubby fingerprint on the window and I can't concentrate until I've zapped it with a bottle of Dettox and a damp cloth.’
    destroy, wipe out, annihilate, exterminate, extirpate, demolish, eliminate, eradicate, kill, decimate, liquidate, wipe off the face of the earth, wipe off the map
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  • 2Move or cause to move suddenly and rapidly.

    [no object, with adverbial of direction] ‘racing cars zapped past us on the track below’
    • ‘A fascinating linguistic theory has been zapping around the internet over the past week.’
    • ‘A bolt of (cheaply superimposed) energy zaps past him.’
    • ‘I sat there watching the chat screen zapping up past me, just about going crosseyed trying to read it all.’
    • ‘The awareness of what was occurring zapped through me, and suddenly I was snapped back into my body as if I'd been shot from a slingshot.’
    1. 2.1[no object]Use a remote control to change television channels or operate a video recorder or other piece of electronic equipment.
      ‘video recorders mean the audience will zap through the ads’
      • ‘Several talk of how they used to zap to another channel whenever politics came on television.’
      • ‘I had nothing to do the night before a game and I was zapping between the channels.’
      • ‘No one is obliged to watch television and you can always zap between channels.’
      • ‘They have always seemed, I'm ashamed to say, a bit like the weather forecast: predictable, dull, a cue to zap to another channel.’
      • ‘With one hand he zapped through the channels on the telly while expertly opening a bottle of ale with the other.’
      • ‘Sadly, modern TV executives are more worried about holding zapping audiences and ratings figures than about television as an arts and culture source.’
      • ‘Tuning out completely is not an option for most voters, unless their television sets can zap out commercials.’


  • A sudden effect or event that makes a dramatic impact, especially a sudden burst of energy or sound.

    ‘the eggs get an extra zap of UV light’
    • ‘If I had a stun gun, I'd give them all a collective zap.’
    • ‘A zap sound ended the vision and then he was left with Ami.’
    • ‘He insists he is not clairvoyant as a result of the zap.’
    • ‘As I saw it, the only thing that would keep me from noshing away on her famous baked brie would be a zap or two.’
    • ‘As soon as Xander's hand made contact with Pheobe's, Pheobe felt as if a zap of electricity went through her body and her heart started to beat faster.’
    • ‘A zap through of news channels will reveal this rotund surgeon, laying claim to be the sole representative of Hindu sentiment in this country.’
    • ‘One zap with my racket and the pesky mosquitoes are dead.’
    • ‘There may be just a zap between them, but they are two completely different creatures.’
    • ‘He received a zap, shrieked slightly at his own stupidity, and yanked away.’
    • ‘All the hydrogen and oxygen need is a zap of electrolysis.’
    • ‘The spells make the appropriate zaps and sizzles, the explosions sound good, and the clanging of weapons on armor are realistic.’
    • ‘I remember one episode when he cured chronic kidney failure with a quick zap on his twisty thing.’


1920s (originally US): imitative.