Bereft of an appropriate topic for the week, I went to the Wordfinder Words that Start with Z, which “can help you score big playing Words With Friends® and Scrabble®.”
I started with the one two-letter word, za: Shortening and alteration of pizza.
Our Living Language: When people speak casually of ordering a za, “pizza,” they are unwittingly producing an expression that language historians find interesting. Za derives from the full form pizza by a process known as clipping.
OK, I get it, but can’t say I really like it.
Moving on to the three-letter words:
zin: (informal) Zinfandel wine
I’ve used that, actually. And have drunk it.
zag: any of the short, sharp angles or turns of a zigzag pattern, as alternating with a zig; any sharp turn away from a straight course
No surprise that zig has a similar definition, both deriving from zigzag, which is shown above. I’ve only used the shorter words in variation, such as “I zigged when I should have zagged.”
zep: Chiefly New Jersey (See submarine sandwich)
Origin of zep – Possibly short for zeppelin (from its shape).
zek – An inmate of a Soviet labor camp.
From the Russian
zax -A tool similar to a hatchet, used for cutting and dressing roofing slates.
Origin of zax: Variant of sax, from Middle English, knife, from Old English seax; see sek- in Indo-European roots.
Which looks a lot like a variation of ax.
The only four-letter word that I did not know but that had a definition was zarf
-a small, metal holder, used in the Levant to hold a cup of hot coffee
-a chalicelike holder for a hot coffee cup, typically made of ornamented metal, used in the Middle East.
-an ornamental container designed to hold a coffee cup and insulate it from the hand of the imbiber
Origin of zarf: Arabic for receptacle, vessel, container
Interestingly, none of the Z words appear in my spellcheck. This is not to say that they are illegitimate, only uncommon. Check out the longer words that start with Z for yourself, see which ones you know, and improve your Scrabble® prowess.