Look here for a good explanation/ history of the term: Ground zero - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Also is used figuratively.
Is ground zero a specific place in New York? or is it something we can always use if we are referring to something like a starting point or a baseline.
Thanks Phukos!Originally Posted by Look here for a good explanation/ history of the term: [URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_zero"
An excerpt from the link above:
The term Ground Zero may be used to describe the point on the earth's surface where an explosion occurs. In the case of an explosion above the ground, Ground Zero refers to the point on the ground directly below explosion (see hypocenter). The term has often been associated with nuclear explosions and other large bombs, but is also used in relation to earthquakes, epidemics and other disasters to mark the point of the most severe damage or destruction. Damage gradually decreases with distance from this point.
That said, if you are reading something about New York City and they mention "Ground Zero" then you can be pretty sure they mean the site of the World Trade Center.
I suspect 'pretty sure' is a bit of an understatement. It's not the first time that a scientifically precise expression has been adopted into common parlance, and when people use the term with that new meaning that's what they mean. I don't see the point in saying 'What it really means is ...', though I sometimes find it hard to practise what I preach!