• Immediately preceding what is regarded as first in a series.

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Example Sentences

“I see you have the first step listed here, but I think we need a zeroth step before that.” 

“Turning the key is the first step to start the car, but buckling your seat belt is the zeroth step.”

“I make ‘take a deep breath” my zeroth task before uttering my first word of a speech.”

Word Origin

English, mid-19th century

Why this word?

When making a to-do list, you can rank tasks in order of importance: “first,” “second,” “third,” “fourth,” etc. But there’s actually a number that comes before first, “zeroth.” This ordinal number, based on the word “zero,” comes immediately before what is considered first in a series. Perhaps the zeroth step of a to-do list is writing the list itself.

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