Z, pronounced "zee" or "zed" depending on where you're from, is one of the language's rarest letters. Z words are necessarily unusual, because this particular holdover from Greek just doesn't drop in on English very often.
But fear not! If you find yourself tongue-tied when it comes to nouns beginning with Z, we have the perfect word list for you. We've gathered 50 nouns that start with Z to illustrate how the letter is used in English.
Here, we've highlighted 50 nouns that start with Z. It is a rare letter, so many of these words may seem a bit obscure. That's intentional. Grappling with unusual words, catching the recurring elements, and identifying prefixes and suffixes, is an important part of getting to grips with English as a whole.
one of the three axes of Cartesian math, perpendicular to axes x and y
deviation from the mean (average) of a set of statistics
a movement characterized by sharp angles
the practice of giving a certain proportion of one's wealth to the poor, one of the Five Pillars of Islam
alms, tithe, tzedakah
(informal) electricity or energy, or to produce a similar sensation
jolt, shock, sizzle
intense enthusiasm, fervor
eagerness, intensity, passion, zest
devotee, enthusiast, fanatic, partisan
natural yellow pigment that occurs in corn, egg yolk and the human retina
black and white striped horse from Africa
equus quagga, equus zebra
small freshwater fish of South Asia with zebra-like stripes
the letter Z
zayin, zayn, zed, zeta, zoyen
spirit or quality of a particular time and place
atmosphere, milieu, tenor
top, peak or highest point of an object or process
acme, apex, pinnacle, summit
light, pleasant gust of wind
aura, breeze, wind
large aircraft held aloft by an envelope of lighter-than-air gas
excitement, emotional energy
ardor, enjoyment, flavor, gusto,
a sharp movement at an angle
a Sumerian monument built of large stone steps
a side-to-side series of movements
chevron, cringle-crangle, stagger
species of black grape, also the wines made from that grape
crljenak kaštelanski, primitivo, tribidrag
slang for zero, none
bubkes, nada, nothing, zip
slang for a very large number
bunch, loads, lots, tons
bluish-white metal, number 30 on the periodic table
short magazine, usually self-published
emotional excitement or stimulation
energy, thrill, tingle, zip
quick joke or funny reply
bon mot, one-liner, retort
pursuit of a Jewish national state
enthusiasm, energy, excitement
jazz, pizzazz, thrill, zing
rope hung at an incline to provide an exciting slide
airtight seal on a plastic bag
fastener made of alternating metal teeth
zirconium silicate, naturally occurring as a clear to brown crystal, can be refined into a gemstone
zirconium dioxide, naturally occurring as a white powder, can be refined into a gemstone
grey-white metal, number 40 on the periodic table
pimple, particularly one caused by acne
boil, carbuncle, furuncle, sore
a type of tubular pasta
pattern of constellations said to reveal the future
mindless undead monster
ghast, ghoul, vampire
a particular area, a space marked for a purpose
area, region, sector
the action of breaking an area down into zones for planning
districting, urban design
place where animals are kept for humans to observe
menagerie, wildlife park
one who cares for the animals at a zoo
animal tender, wrangler, zoologist
scientist who studies animals
entomologist, herpetologist, ichthyologist, mammalogist, naturalist
the scientific study of animals
entomology, herpetology, naturalism
mobile microscopic animals in fresh or seawater
plankton, protists, protozoans
man's suit, popular in the 1930s and 1940s, with baggy high-waisted trousers and padded shoulders
monotheistic religion of Persia (in modern Iran)
belt or girdle worn by men in ancient Greece
belt, girdle, zoné
edible cylindrical green gourd
embryo in its earliest phase of development
embryo, fertilized cell, fetus
Given the simplest possible definition, a noun is a word representing a thing. More specifically, a noun represents a person, place, object or idea. Whether it's as simple as going to the zoo or as complex as zeaxanthin, we interact with nouns every day.
In addition to whether they represent a person, a place, a thing or an idea, nouns can also be organized into groups based on how they work in language. Some of the most common groups follow.
- Abstract nouns represent the "idea" part of "person, place, thing or idea." Concepts like "capitalism" or "joy" are abstract nouns: we can't see or touch them, but they certainly exist.
- A collective noun refers to a group of people or things, such as a "team" of basketball players or a "committee" of politicians.
- As a rule, if a noun doesn't fit in any of the other listed categories, it's a common noun. Common nouns are by far the majority of nouns, ranging from aardvarks to zymometers.
- A possessive noun indicates that something belongs or relates to the noun in question, and it is almost always followed by an apostrophe and an "s." For example, in the phrase "Zelda's cheese," "Zelda's" is a possessive noun. Note that possessive nouns are often proper nouns, as with cheese-loving Zelda, but they don't have to be. Whether you're talking about a "ball's" trajectory, a "computer's" RAM or a "game's" high score, you're using possessive nouns.
To use proper nouns properly, you need to know that they're the formal names of people, places, things or ideas. For example, in the sentence "Zach is a zealot," "zealot" is a common noun, but Zach is a proper noun. Proper nouns should always be capitalized.
Here follow 10 sentences to show you how nouns starting with Z work in everyday written language. For more help with sentence structure, check out our sentence variety examples and articles on compound and declarative sentences.
- Debbie started her frustrating day by finding a big zit on her nose.
- She made herself pasta with zucchini and sat down to think.
- She reflected on her final class project on zooplankton.
- She had been so enthusiastic about her studies, but now she felt like a zombie in her cubicle job.
- But, she couldn't suppress a smile as she looked at the zirconia on her finger.
- Debbie poured herself a glass of zinfandel and reflected on all the good things in her life.
- Debbie promised herself to connect with the zookeeper tomorrow to look for jobs in her field.
- Happy with her plan, Debbie enjoyed the warm zephyr from her balcony.
- She roused herself to do her evening stretches with her usual zeal.
- Tomorrow was another day, one she intended to live to its zenith.
If you're not ready to move on from Z, you'll be glad to learn that there are still more words to explore. Go to Wordfinder by YourDictionary for even more terms that begin with the letter Z, revealed in order by word length. Use the built-in search feature to limit to words of whatever length interests you the most. Or, quickly find options that include, begin or end with certain letters or combinations of letters. WordFinder's word list feature makes easy work of creating your own custom lists of words that start with Z or any other letter that you want to explore.
Zs can be tricky, but there's no better way to obtain real expertise with English. Getting your head around English's resident Greek refugee is one of the real challenges of the language. Once you've got it, you're golden for anything else this curious tongue can throw at you. Need more? We've got you covered. For even more lexicographical learning, check out Adjectives That Start With H.