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Thread: Ground Zero

  1. #1
    areved is offline Newbie
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    Default Ground Zero

    Hello!! I am a new member.

    While I was researching for the meaning of the phrase "ground zero", the online dictionaries defined it as the place where a missile hit or exploded, and others of the same tenor.

    However, I've been reading/hearing people say it to mean "the beginning" or "the start" of a process or experience. Is this is now the correct usage?

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Ground Zero

    Phrases can take on a life of their own. While the phrase was first used, I believe, after the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in the Second World War, it came into common usage after 9/11, so it's not surprising that it has developed new meanings.
    Last edited by Tdol; 18-Nov-2006 at 05:07. Reason: Typo

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    Ouisch is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Ground Zero

    In a similar vein, when an epidemic of some sort (such as SARS or West Nile Virus) gains international attention, the first person who was diagnosed with it is now described as "Patient Zero."

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Ground Zero

    Wouldn't 'patient one' make more sense?

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    Default Re: Ground Zero

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Wouldn't 'patient one' make more sense?
    Good point. As if being known as, "Hey! That's the one that started spreading this Mad Cow thing to humans!" isn't dehumanizing enough.

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