Zeroed Out: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 18, 2023

The idiom "zeroed out" means to reduce something to zero, typically in terms of balance or a budget. It often carries the connotation of eliminating or entirely consuming something. This idiom is used primarily in business and finance, referring to a situation when all funds have been spent, and there's no money left in an account or budget.

In short:

  • When you say something is "zeroed out," you mean that it has been reduced to zero, usually in a financial context.
  • It can also signify the act of resetting a value or balance back to zero.
  • This could relate to a debt, budget, or even a mechanical device like a scale or meter.

What Does "Zeroed Out" Mean?

"Zeroed out" is a common phrase in the business and finance sectors, referring to reducing a value or balance to zero. It can mean the elimination of funds, a balance, or a debt.

Let's delve into its core meanings and usage:

  • "Zeroed out" means setting something back to zero or completely resetting it, often with reference to a balance, account, or measurement.
  • Use it when talking about eliminating debt or resetting a device to its original settings.
  • People often use the phrase "zeroed out" in financial and numerical situations. For example, someone might say they have zeroed out their debt after paying off their loans or have zeroed out a device by resetting it to factory settings.
  • An example of using "zeroed out" in a sentence is: "After working hard to pay off her student loans, Maria finally zeroed out her debt and felt a great sense of relief." In this context, "zeroed out" conveys that Maria has paid off her debt completely, and her account balance is now zero.
  • Some synonyms for "zeroed out" are "reset to zero," "cleared," and "wiped clean."

Where Does "Zeroed Out" Come From?

The term "zeroed out" originated in the world of finance and accounting, used to describe situations when all funds in an account or budget have been completely used up. Its usage extended to other domains, such as mechanics and engineering, where it can refer to resetting a device or meter back to zero.

Historical Example

"The reason they have been zeroed out is because their mission has not changed appreciably."

- Hearings Before Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives..., 1951

10 Examples of "Zeroed Out" in Sentences

To better comprehend the idiom's usage, let's examine its use in a variety of contexts:

  • As per my last email, we have zeroed out the surplus to allocate funds for the new project.
  • Moving forward, the management decided to zero out all debts to start on a clean slate.
  • Before each experiment, we ensured the scales were zeroed out.
  • They zeroed out their debts by selling some of their assets.
  • You're suggesting a bold strategy, but I'm game if it means our debts will be zeroed out.
  • The department's budget was zeroed out halfway through the year due to unexpected costs.
  • Feeling under the weather, he still made the effort to zero out his pending assignments before taking a break.
  • The charity drive zeroed out its funds, successfully distributing them to needy people.
  • He zeroed out his browser history to hide his deep dark secret.
  • Amid the hustle and bustle of city life, they managed to zero out their carbon emissions, setting an example for sustainable living.

Examples of "Zeroed Out" in Pop Culture

The phrase "zeroed out" appears in various instances in popular culture, generally signifying the depletion or reduction to zero.

Let's explore some instances:

  • "Zeroed Out" is a song by Shawn Farley from the 2016 album What Aught-Nine Wrought: Selections From "5240."
  • The rom-com film Timer (2009) includes the line: " zeros-out at midnight the night before, and then the next day it could go off at any second, and you get your soul mate..."
  • Another comedy movie Maid to Order (1987), mentions, "But, Dad, please! I'm zeroed out."
  • A quote from the book Breaking Out of the Pink-Collar Ghetto by Sharon H. Mastraci: "The Reagan Administration zeroed out or cut deeply most if not all of whatever was left, and nothing new was funded on the federal."

Other/Different Ways to Say "Zeroed Out"

There are various other expressions that convey a similar meaning to "zeroed out."

Here are some of them:

  • Exhausted
  • Depleted
  • Drained
  • Emptied
  • Spent
  • Used up
  • Reset to zero
  • Reduced to nothing
  • Cleared
  • Nullified

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Zeroed Out":

  • What does "zeroed out" mean?

"Zeroed out" means reducing something to zero, typically referring to the balance of an account or a budget in a financial context.

  • How can I use "zeroed out" in a sentence?

You could say, "After our home renovation, our budget was completely zeroed out."

  • Where does the idiom "zeroed out" come from?

"Zeroed out" has its origins in finance and accounting, used to describe a situation when all funds have been spent and nothing is left in a budget or account.

  • Is "zeroed out" used in everyday conversation?

While it's not common in casual conversation, "zeroed out" is often used in discussions related to finance, business, and in technical contexts.

  • Can "zeroed out" refer to non-financial scenarios?

Yes, "zeroed out" can also refer to resetting a device or instrument to zero, as well as metaphorically to indicate the idea of complete depletion or exhaustion.

  • Does "zeroed out" always indicate a negative scenario?

Not always. While it often refers to exhaustion or depletion, in some contexts, like clearing a debt, it can carry a positive connotation.

  • Can "zeroed out" refer to an emotional state?

Yes, in a metaphorical sense, "zeroed out" can be used to describe a state of complete emotional or physical exhaustion.

  • Is "zeroed out" a technical term?

Yes, in many fields like engineering, computing, and finance, "zeroed out" is a technical term used to denote the resetting of a value to zero.

  • Can "zeroed out" refer to zeroing in on something?

No, "zeroed out" and "zeroing in" are different idioms. While "zeroed out" means reducing something to zero or depleting something completely, "zeroing in" means to focus intently on a particular subject or target.

  • Is "zeroed out" a universally understood concept?

While the idiom is English, the concept of reducing something to zero or completely depleting something is universally understandable across different languages and cultures.

Final Thoughts About "Zeroed Out"

The idiom "zeroed out" refers to the reduction of something to zero, commonly used in finance and other fields to denote the complete depletion of resources. It can also be used metaphorically to describe a state of exhaustion or the act of resetting something to its starting point.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "Zeroed out" highlights the concept of complete depletion or reduction to zero.
  • While it's often used in financial and technical contexts, it can also be applied metaphorically in everyday language.
  • The idiom can convey both positive and negative connotations depending on the context.

Whether you're talking about a bank account, a device setting, or your energy levels, "zeroed out" is a versatile phrase that succinctly captures the idea of something being brought down to nothing.

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