“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right
to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
– George Orwell, Preface to Animal Farm (1946)
Have you ever heard that a site in Manhattan where the former World Trade Center used to stand bears a truly strange name: “Ground Zero”?
If you haven’t heard it yet, here is information for you: starting from about 4 PM, September 11, 2001 (even before the WTC-7 has collapsed) the site where the Twin Towers used to be has been dubbed “ground zero” – both officially and unofficially.
Almost immediately after the Towers’ collapse (precisely at 11.01 AM) the then New York Mayor R. Giuliani has urged all citizens to stay at home if they can and ordered an immediate evacuation of the entire population of Manhattan south of Canal Street. When his order for evacuation was re-transmitted via TV-channels (for example by CNN) it sounded very strange: it resembled nothing else than a typical civil defense alert – used during a real war in which weapons of mass destruction supposed to be used.
About the same time some strange guys dressed in full “lunar-looking” haz-mat suits were first noticed at that ground zero. And it was actually them – these strange “lunar-looking” guys who first began to call that spot by that strange name: “ground zero”.
Usage of this strange term in connection with demolition grounds of the former World Trade Center continued even up this day. However, a certain transformation occurred with this strange term soon, as if someone has realized his mistake and wanted to correct it: the term was elevated to be written with Capital Letters and as such it eventually found its way into many post-9/11 dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Now it is no longer “ground zero”, but “Ground Zero”.
But what about pre-9/11 English language? Do you know what this strange term “ground zero” used to mean before the WTC destruction and how many different meanings it used to have prior to 9/11? I guess you don’t know. So, here is it:
Above: all possible meanings of “ground zero” term as defined by The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language (Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition 1999, ISBN 1-888777796), page 559.
There are few more definitions from various sources. Here are entire, unabridged definitions – “as is” – exactly as provided by respective dictionaries:
“ground zero” n. a point on the surface of land or water at or directly above or below the center of a nuclear explosion.
Collins English Dictionary, Major New Edition (Third Edition 1991, ISBN 0 00 433286-5 Standard).
“ground zero” n. a point on the ground directly below the center of a nuclear explosion.
Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus, 21 Century Edition (second edition 2000, ISBN 0 00 472502-6).
“ground zero”. The place on the earth’s surface directly at, below, or above the explosion of a nuclear bomb.
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary (Edition 1981, ISBN 0-395-31256-6).
“ground zero” n. The point of detonation of a nuclear weapon.
The American Heritage Dictionary 4th edition (published July, 2001, ISBN 978-0-440-23701-3, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2003276350).
“ground’ ze’ro” – the point on the surface of the earth or water directly below, directly above, or at which an atomic or hydrogen bomb explodes.
Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (Edition 1989, printed in 1994, ISBN 0-517-11888-2).
“ground zero” – the point on the ground vertically beneath or above the point of detonation of an atomic or thermonuclear bomb.
The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language (Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition 1999, ISBN 1-888777796).
“ground zero” n: the point above, below, or at which a nuclear explosion occurs.
The Merriam-Webster and Garfield Dictionary (Paper back edition 1999, ISBN 0-87779-626-2).
“ground zero” the surface area directly below or above the point where a nuclear bomb is set off
Webster’s New World Dictionary (Student Edition, 1981, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 76-4634, ISBN 0-671-41815-7).
“ground zero” n. the point on the surface of the earth at or directly below or above the centre of a nuclear explosion.
Penguin Student Dictionary (first published as The New Penguin Compact English Dictionary 2001, reprinted in this edition without supplementary material… ISBN 0-141-02818-1).
“ground zero” = point on the ground directly under the explosion of a nuclear weapon.
Dictionary of Military Terms (Peter Collins Publishing 1999, ISBN 1-901659-24-0).
“ground’ ze’ro” – the point on the surface of the earth or water directly below, directly above, or at which an atomic or hydrogen bomb explodes.
The Random House College Dictionary (Edition 1966, printed in 1973, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 68-19699).
“ground ze-ro” /,.’../ n [U] the place where a NUCLEAR bomb explodes, where the most severe damage happens
Longman Advanced American Dictionary (new, first published 2000, ISBN 0 582 31732 0).
“ground zero” n: the point above, below, or at which a nuclear explosion occurs.
Webster’s New Ideal Dictionary (Second Edition, 1989, ISBN 0-87779-449-9)
“ground zero” The point on the ground vertically beneath or above the point of detonation of an atomic or thermonuclear bomb: also called hypocenter.
Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary (1980, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 79-93030).
“ground zero” noun 1 [C usually singular] the exact place where a nuclear bomb explodes: The blast was felt as far as 30 miles from ground zero. 2 [U] the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City, which was destroyed in an attack on September 11, 2001.
Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 2nd Edition. (2nd Edition 2006, ISBN-13 978-0-521-60499-4 – this is a post 9/11 edition, widely available).
Are you surprised? If you don’t believe your eyes and prefer to run to the nearest book store to buy some dictionary, don’t be in a hurry. When you arrive to such shop you will be surprised even more, because it is no longer possible to find any dictionary with pure old definition of this strange term. Those dictionaries printed before 9/11, such as mentioned above, that contained the only true meaning of “ground zero” term have been long time ago removed from book-shelves and replaced with some newer ones.
Unfortunately, the very English language was one of the first victims of the 9/11 perpetration… So, instead of rushing to a book store, try to ask some of your friends if they have any – in case of good luck you might succeed in finding some old big English dictionary that was not victimized by the linguistic part of the 9/11 cover-up.
Now, at last, you know what the “ground zero” is and you might guess about true meaning of the “Ground Zero” term when used with Capital Letters… As well as you might guess about true causes of a strange sickness – leukemia – endemic to that place, that majority of the Ground Zero responders suffer from.
You can download an archive (14 Mb file size) with contains 40 articles describing health problems among the responders: http://www.911-truth.net/911_cancers_all.zip
However, this is not all. Strangely enough, “Ground Zero” was used with capital letters even before the WTC thermo-nuclear demolition. Many people know about it – especially those from the US military.
The very middle of the huge Pentagon building complex used to bear the same strange name: “Ground Zero”. Even before September the 11th. This name survived from the Cold War times. There used to be the so-called “Ground Zero Plaza” and the “Ground Zero Cafe”- right in the middle of the Pentagon. Guess why?
Because the Pentagon was absolutely rightfully expected to be the main target of a Soviet nuclear strike in case of a major nuclear war. That is why the central yard of the Pentagon was mockingly dubbed “Ground Zero” in advance. And it was used with capital letters, of course, because it was proper noun – the name of the cafeteria.
Usage of the “Ground Zero” term in connection with the central yard of the Pentagon is described in a fairly good manner in this Wikipedia article:
Ironically, this mocking name narrowly missed to become the true one on the very same day – September 11, 2001 – when the last greeting from the Cold War era has delivered to that place a half-megaton thermo-nuclear warhead that “luckily” failed to explode.
Here there is a genuine 9/11 news release now on YouTube that how the strangest nuclear term “ground zero” has been first indiscreetly introduced to general public.
[YouTube video insert here] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLqUIYNVomY
Note, that it happened even before the WTC-7 collapse, since NBC’s Anne Thompson (who appears to become the first reporter to use this nuclear name) referred in this clip to the Twin Towers’ collapse as the “first explosion” and the “second explosion”, while the “third explosion” (the WTC-7 demolition) was yet to occur, according to her.
Here there is yet another revealing video-clip about usage of the term “ground zero” on September 11, 2001, evening.
[YouTube video insert here] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE2NJscLjuY
And here http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/12/arce.focus/index.html you can see one of 9/11 contemporary news articles where seditious words “ground zero” are used “as is” – with low case letters, i.e. still as a definition, and not as a proper noun. Should the abovementioned web page disappear, you can always download this September 12, 2001, CNN article saved in either PDF (http://www.what-is-ground-zero.com/CNN_Reporting_from_ground_zero_12-09-2001.pdf ) or in CHM (http://www.what-is-ground-zero.com/CNN_Reporting_from_ground_zero_12-09-2001.chm ) formats.
What is ground zero?
Etymology of this term is easily traceable. In a military specific part of English language there was a term “zeroing in” with meant exact aiming of a weapon onto some target. With advent of aviation bombs and especially missiles this term changed a little bit – in regard to missiles, bombs and other projectiles. The exact spot on the earth’s surface that is aimed by such a projectile began to be called “ground zero”. It had nothing to do with either “explosion”, or “devastation”, but exclusively with “aiming of a projectile”.
When first atomic weapons came into the existence they were first made in a form of aviation bombs and missiles. Logically, the term “ground zero” expanded to embrace the exact hypocenter of an atomic (and later also hydrogen) explosion – since it was exactly “ground zero” as an aim of a projectile carrying its atomic load, so that “ground zero” in an old sense of “aim” and “ground zero” in a new sense: “hypocenter of a nuclear explosion” – always coincided.
Once again this term has expanded, because nuclear bombs would more likely explode above the ground, rather than on its surface. “Ground zero” began to mean not just an exact spot on the earth hit by a projectile before a nuclear explosion followed, but rather projection on to the earth’s surface of a hypocenter of such a nuclear explosion – be it above the ground, or even below the ground. Later it was also expanded in the same sense to embrace underwater nuclear explosions.
As you can expect, soon “ground zero” has completely lost its initial meaning (a target of a projectile) and the people ceased to use this term in that particular sense. The second meaning (a spot on the ground of-, or a projection to the ground of an exact hypocenter of a nuclear or a thermo-nuclear explosion) was to be its only meaning for the next 56 years since an atomic bomb was first tested. The “ground zero’s” initial meaning was totally out of use – practically no dictionary (with the rarest exception) did include the former meaning when defining “ground zero”.
However, majority of big dictionaries in the second part of the XX century used to define this term by only its second meaning alone, which became the only meaning of these term: “a hypocenter of a nuclear (or a thermonuclear) explosion or its projection to the earth’s surface”.
Strangely enough, “ground zero” used to be traditionally associated with the so-called “Manhattan Project” of 1942. It was so all the way down starting from 1945 and till about noon time of September 11, 2001. Ironically, since 9/11, this term began to be associated with another “Manhattan Project” – that of 1966, which has proven to be so disastrous only 35 years later…
Do not be surprised that almost all new English dictionaries, printed after 9/11, began to describe “ground zero” as allegedly having more than one sense. Some of them even “remembered” its very first and completely forgotten meaning (“aim of a projectile”), which was completely out of use for 50 years.
In addition, at least 3-5 new meanings have been ascribed to this term, ranging from alleged “great devastation”, “great disorder” and “busy activities” to some alleged “basic level” and “starting point”.
Some preferred another approach: editors of a new Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, for example, defined “ground zero” as a “place where a bomb explodes” without mentioning anything at all that such a “bomb” supposes to be only a nuclear or a thermo-nuclear one:
Above: Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (edition 2003, ISBN 0 582 77649 X).
An example of this term’s usage offered by this dictionary is particularly impressive: have you ever heard that a certain explosion of a “bomb” could flatten buildings within 25 km (15.5 miles) radius? It is hardly possible, unless a “bomb” were something like 45 megaton (45.000 kiloton) in caliber or even mightier. Yet, the word “nuclear” is not there anymore…
In addition to all of it, now almost all dictionaries – either big or small – began to include this (to be exact “these”) definitions.
The term “ground zero”, obviously because of being too specific, prior to the September 11 affair existed only in really big English dictionaries – such as Webster’s Unabridged, full Collins, full American Heritage, and similar (and there it has only a single meaning). It did not exist in smaller dictionaries – such as those intended for students and for advanced learners (the only exception was the Longman Advanced American Dictionary – mentioned above).
For example, “ground zero” was absent in Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionaries of 4th, 5th and 6th Editions, published before September 11, 2001. Even Oxford’s 4th special “Encyclopedic” version (that was about 50% larger compared to a normal one) did not include any “ground zero’s” definition. Only Oxford’s Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of 7th Edition first published in 2005 began describing this term at last:
Above: Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 7th Edition, 2005 (ISBN 0-19-431650-5).
This is the first Oxford ALD dictionary that began to include “ground zero” definition whatsoever. The previous OALD’s edition – the 6th, published in 2000, has not featured any “ground zero” definition yet. Here we can see it’s third, misleading definition that looks so “innocent”.
Post-9/11 editions of Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners and Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, all kinds of new Merriam-Webster’s Dictionaries, majority of new American Heritage Dictionaries, new Collins English, Microsoft Encarta Dictionary, and many other new dictionaries and encyclopedias after the September 11 affair all began to include “ground zero” and to define it in a sense that it might allegedly have more than one meaning, trying all their best to divert attention of their readers from the former nuclear (and only nuclear) nature of that term.
Above: Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners. First published in 2002. (ISBN 0-333-75288-0).
Here we can see yet another misleading definition that looks so “innocent”; however it is conspicuously different from the 3rd misleading definition in the above mentioned Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 7th Edition. Apparently, various spin-doctors appointed to deal with different editors of dictionaries in a variety of publishing houses did not have any well-coordinated policy and therefore their individual “creativity” is clearly visible.
By the way, editors of the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary have to be praised for not cheating their readers: they were brave enough to resist all these psudo-linguistic efforts and dared not to include any misleading definition of “ground zero” into their post-9/11 dictionary; it was done so in a sharp contrast to all other dictionaries editors at service of 9/11 cheaters:
Above: Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 2nd Edition, 2006. (ISBN-13 978-0-521-60499-4). This appears to be the only honest post-9/11 English dictionary that does not feature any additional misleading definitions such as alleged “idiomatic” ones.
It was reported that there were even attempts to prove that “ground zero” was allegedly used to describe that location long before the September 11, 2001.
All these post-9/11 linguistic efforts in regard to “ground zero” are understandable, indeed. That strangely revealing name, rashly awarded by Civil Defense specialists to the demolition grounds of the former New York World Trade Center, was obviously too revealing to leave that term in future editions of dictionaries with only its former sense alone…
But we are not so stupid, hah? And all of us know cause-and-effect relations on which the very concept of logic is based: cause always goes first, while consequence follows and it can not be otherwise.
If “ground zero” was legally re-defined after the 9/11 events, does it mean that the WTC “kerosene-pancake-collapse” grounds were called by this strange “idiom” because of its alleged tertiary sense so conveniently offered to us by the abovementioned dictionaries for “advanced learners”? Of course, not. The designation “ground zero” (then still in low-case letters, by the way) was awarded to the WTC grounds BEFORE the dictionaries were re-printed. Do you agree with this logic?
Thus when we talk about “ground zero” in regard to the former WTC we could only perceive the true sense of this disputed term from pre-9/11 dictionaries, and not from the post-9/11 ones. I hope everyone agrees with this method?
Now let’s review several big pre-9/11 dictionaries (as I have mentioned, due to this term was too specific prior to September the 11th, it was not included in small dictionaries).
Pre-9/11 definitions of “ground zero” in various big English dictionaries (there was not even a single dictionary of English idioms that contained the “ground zero” idiom, so all the dictionaries mentioned below are standard English dictionaries, except only the Dictionary of Military Terms):
Above: Collins English Dictionary 1991 (ISBN 0 00 433286-5 Standard)
Above: The American Heritage Desk Dictionary 1981 (ISBN 0-395-31256-6)
Above: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (Edition 1989, printed in 1994 – ISBN 0-517-11888-2)
Above: Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus – 21 Century Edition (second edition 2000, ISBN 0 00 472502-6)
Above: Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus – Thumb-indexed Edition (first published 1993, ISBN 0 00 470303-0)
Above: Dictionary of Military Terms – Peter Collins Publishing 1999 (ISBN 1-901659-24-0)
Above: Penguin Student Dictionary (first published as The New Penguin Compact English Dictionary 2001, ISBN 0-141-02818-1)
Above: Longman Advanced American Dictionary (new, first published 2000, ISBN 0 582 31732 0)
The Merriam-Webster and Garfield Dictionary (Paper back edition 1999, ISBN 0-87779-626-2)
Above: The Random House College Dictionary (Edition 1966, printed in 1973, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 68-19699).
Above: Webster’s New Ideal Dictionary (Second Edition, 1989, ISBN 0-87779-449-9)
Above: Webster’s New World Dictionary (Student Edition, 1981, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 76-4634, ISBN 0-671-41815-7).
Above: The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language (Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition 1999, ISBN 1-888777796)
Above: The American Heritage Dictionary 4th edition. (Published July, 2001, ISBN 978-0-440-23701-3, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2003276350.)
Above: Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary. (1980, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 79-93030.)
As you can see, none of the available pre-9/11 English dictionaries contained any additional definition of “ground zero” that might allow using this highly tailored term in any idiomatic/metaphorical/figurative sense.
“Ground zero” could only be used in specific situations where nuclear explosions were involved – primarily it was used in nuclear science-, military-, ABC-, or Civil Defense jargons.
Government-appointed spin-doctors and various kinds of shills now try very hard to prove to the gullible public that “ground zero” was allegedly used even before September 11, 2001, in a sense different than that described by the abovementioned English dictionaries. They even tried to concoct various backdated texts and to insert them into public databases and even to libraries.
Thanks to their efforts, you might encounter quite a few “innocent” books where “ground zero” was allegedly used prior to 9/11 in an alleged metaphorical sense or in a sense that was ascribed to this term only after 9/11.
Should you encounter such “innocent” concoctions, don’t allow yourself to be duped. All these concoctions are backdated. “Ground zero” has never had any other sense than described above and has never been used in any English language – whether formal or colloquial – in any figurative sense. It could only be used in its sole direct sense.
Even when “Ground Zero” words were mockingly used to call the central yard of the Pentagon, even in this case they had not been used in any metaphorical sense – it was merely a kind of a black humor, since the middle of the Pentagon was rightly presumed to be the first target of the would be Soviet thermo-nuclear strike during those years of the Cold War.
One of my readers, an American, contacted me and told me that he remembered that in his young age, in the ‘50s, during those first atomic tests, he and other boys used “ground zero” expression colloquially. For example, boys those days could shout a phrase “I will make a ground zero out of you if you don’t give me that toy!” I have no doubt that this is true and those days young boys could indeed use this type of expression. But if you are a logical person, you can see that even when it was used colloquially in this particular sense it had something to do with the nuclear nature of this strange term. Because boys back in the ‘50s were apparently impressed by an unprecedented level of destruction an atomic explosion could create and they knew that a spot of such an atomic explosion was called “ground zero”, so they began to use these words merely as a strong expression.
However, “ground zero” has never been used by adults in any “non-nuclear” metaphorical sense as alleged by today’s linguists who reprinted all dictionaries, produced even back-dated texts, and sincerely hope that we will be duped by their efforts. They will not be able to dupe us despite their verily heroic efforts. The alleged “metaphorical” or “idiomatic” sense of “ground zero” is missing not only in all without any exception standard big unabridged English dictionaries and encyclopedias printed before 9/11, but in all without any exception dictionaries of idioms as well. Do you really believe if “ground zero” were indeed used in idiomatic sense before 2001, such an idiom would not be included in especially dedicated dictionaries of idioms? Please, don’t be so naïve…
But what is the most important, in pre-9/11 standard English language “ground zero” was nothing else than a legal definition. If some place was called “ground zero” that only meant that it was a place where a nuclear (or thermonuclear) explosion has taken place.
It was therefore legally admissible in the court of law. If something was called “a place of a nuclear explosion” it only meant that it was indeed “a place of a nuclear explosion”.
However, it all suddenly changed after the spot of the WTC nuclear demolition was called using the appropriate words by the Civil Defense specialists on duty (alerted by a sudden surge of radiation levels), and these seditious words were inadvertently leaked to the general public…
Post-9/11 manipulations with “ground zero”.
One of the best and the most illustrative examples of post-9/11 manipulations with “ground zero” definitions is represented by this screenshot below (the original web page was located here: http://everything2.com/title/Ground+zero ).
As you can see the first definition of ground zero was posted by user “Quizro” on 15 of February, 2000, and that definition was very straight – perfectly compatible with all contemporary English dictionaries. It contained neither any secondary meanings, nor any implication that these highly tailored words could be used in any metaphorical sense.
However, very soon after September 11 events – i.e. on 07 of October, 2001, this web page was visited by a shill appointed by the US Government nicknamed “mrichich”.
This was undoubtedly a part of the wider operation by the governmental spin-doctors to re-define the seditious words so thoughtlessly leaked to the general public in connection with the WTC nuclear demolition.
To begin with the spin-doctors capitalized “Ground Zero” used in connection with the WTC demolition grounds and attempted to convert it into a proper noun as opposed to the previous Civil Defense’s designation. It was more important than it might appear at the first glance.
The problem was that “ground zero” in low case letters was nothing else than a LEGAL DEFINITION ascribed by Civil Defense specialists to the WTC demolition grounds. The low case letters definition was as clear as “a place of where the former World Trade Center was destroyed by a nuclear explosion”. You could go to the court of law and sue the US Government straight away. All what you would need to have with you as evidence is a couple of contemporary news releases and a couple of big English dictionaries.
Therefore for the spin-doctors to convert the legal Civil Defense’s definition into a Proper Noun was more than a serious task. After that the spin-doctors attempted to re-write where possible most of the earlier articles where “ground zero” was used still in low case letters (meaning articles where “ground zero” was used as a definition rather than a Proper Noun). That is why not too many news articles dated by 12, 13 and 14 of September, 2001, are available today on the Internet where “ground zero” is used in low-case letters (however, a link to one of such seditious CNN articles is available above).
The next step was to remove from circulation all big English dictionaries (since “ground zero” term was too specific to be used in any and every dictionary and before 9/11 it was mostly used only in full, big, unabridged and encyclopedic dictionaries). The spin-doctors succeeded with removal of these old big dictionaries and decreased their circulation at least to a certain extent.
The next logical step was to produce some bogus secondary definitions of “ground zero” and to create an impression that these words were allegedly used in secondary and in metaphorical senses even before the 9/11 events.
For that reason texts of several books were modified to include usage of “ground zero” in an alleged idiomatic sense and these backdated books were placed into the Library of Congress. (The Library of Congress serves as a legal depository for all existing books – the fact that a book dated by such and such date stands on a shelf of this Library is a legal proof that such book indeed existed on that specific date and its text is indeed genuine. If you wish to understand how important it is, perhaps, you need to watch “Wag the Dog” movie – in this highly revealing film it is shown how spin-doctors who just concocted a bogus backdated “folk song” made sure to insert its backdated recording into the Library of Congress – because this is the most important step to “legalize” anything bogus and backdated.)
Understandably, after targeting the Library of Congress the next logical step of the spin-doctors would be to target the Internet – these bogus backdated texts with alleged idiomatic usage of “ground zero” must have been “popularized” on the Internet.
In addition, the newly created secondary definitions and alleged “idiomatic” senses of “ground zero” must have been urgently popularized either.
General public should begin to use the “ground zero” not only in a sense of a place of a nuclear explosion, but in many other senses and it should happen as soon as possible.
However, on the web page of which a screenshot is above the spin-doctors encountered something extremely dangerous – the former sole definition of “ground zero” that must have been urgently dealt with.
Therefore a shill nicknamed “mrichich” was urgently dispatched to deal with the matter.
All you have to do is just to read his post, to compare the second post with the first post and to keep in mind that all of it took place in the immediate aftermath of the WTC nuclear demolition which the US Government was trying to cover up at any cost.
Honestly, I don’t even have much comment, since the second post is self-evident in both – its meaning and in its purpose.
It shall be known, however, that besides those standard big unabridged and encyclopedic dictionaries akin to those described on the first page, all famous publishing houses make so-called “dictionaries of idioms” as well. Actually, if “ground zero” would have any secondary meaning, it would be mentioned as such in all standard dictionaries, because they are big enough to contain all meanings, including idiomatic ones.
In addition, if “ground zero” were known to be used before 9/11 in any idiomatic sense, it should have been included in at least some dictionaries of idioms. Strangely enough, no dictionary of idioms published by any company prior to September 11, 2001, has ever listed “ground zero” as any kind of “idiom”. Neither Longman’s, nor NTC’s, nor Collins’, nor Oxford’s, nor Cambridge’s nor American Heritage’s dictionary of idioms, nor that of any other publishing house, has ever mentioned “ground zero”…
In comparison with the second post in the above screenshot, the third post could be considered innocent. The middle yard of the Pentagon was indeed called “ground zero” even before September 11 attacks, but it was by no means “idiomatic” or “figurative” usage. It was just quite a rude joke – very typical to the “barracks humor” of military men. The center of the Pentagon was definitely the very first target of the possible Soviet nuclear strike – the very first thermo-nuclear warhead falling at hypersonic speed from stratosphere should aim to the middle of the Pentagon precisely. That is exactly it was mockingly called “ground zero” in advance and the eatery located there was called “Ground Zero Cafe” accordingly.
The fact that the exact spot where the so-called “plane” hit the Pentagon is too called “ground zero” is understandable as well – because the Soviet “Granit” missile that hit the Pentagon during 9/11 events was indeed equipped with a 500 kiloton thermo-nuclear warhead (which “luckily” failed to explode), so there is nothing wrong calling that place “Ground Zero” either – because the same kind of the military black humor would apply to the case.
However, it had nothing to do with any humor when the spin-doctors appointed by the desperate US Government attempted to re-print all without exception English dictionaries with a view to re-define “ground zero”…
ground zero – comparing pre- and post- 9/11 dictionaries
You can see from screenshots below how “ground zero” definitions were manipulated with in various post-9/11 English dictionaries.
To begin with, let’s consider Longman dictionaries. As you can see, after 9/11 Longman Publishing decided to forgo any “nuclear” allusion in regard to “ground zero” term and ceased to use word “nuclear” whatsoever in its definition (the only black and white dictionary is the pre-9/11 one). However, Longman Publishing preferred not to ascribe any secondary meanings to “ground zero” – its meaning still strictly limited to “explosions” and to the spot of the former World Trade Center.
Example of mutation of meanings of “ground zero” from 2000 through 2007 in various Longman’s dictionaries:
Above: Longman Advanced American Dictionary (first published 2000, ISBN 0 582 31732 0).
Below: Longman Advanced American Dictionary (second edition 2007, ISBN 978 1 40582 9540).
Note, that the two dictionaries above are the First and the Second editions of the very same dictionary: “Longman Advanced American Dictionary”, printed in 2000 and 2007 respectively.
Here you can see a pure cheating of its reader: either before or after “ground zero” definition other words’ definitions (“ground work”, “ground water”, “group1”) including even samples of their usage are all exactly the same. But not that of “ground zero”.
Above: Longman Dictionary of American English (Third Edition 2004, ISBN 0 582 79448 X).
Below: Longman Dictionary of American English (4th Edition 2008, Third impression 2010, ISBN 9781405884662)
And one more latest Longman’s dictionary:
Above: Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture (3rd edition 2005, 2nd impression 2006; ISBN 0 582 85312 5).
Please note, that before it was the word “NUCLEAR” that was printed in capital letters in “ground zero” definition. Now it is another word, printed in capital letters: “TERRORISTs”. That is how the meaning of the words has mutated in Longmans dictionaries from 2000 through 2006…
Here are a few more examples of mutation of “ground zero” definitions. These changes in definitions are especially interesting in the below examples, because here we have a chance to compare editions of similar dictionaries published before- and after 9/11. And these shameless changes are especially notable, because they seemingly have nothing to do with the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and with its sacred grounds now spelled with Capital Letters. Additional meanings are NOT about the WTC.
Example 1. Post 9/11-changes of “ground zero” definitions in Random House College Dictionaries.
Above: The Random House College Dictionary (published 1973, no ISBN available, but only the Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 68-19699).
Below: The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary (first edition 1991, but this is an updated edition 2005, ISBN 0-375-42600-0).
It is also interesting to compare this post-9/11 “broadened” definition of “ground zero” with that in the biggest of all these dictionaries – the Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language – available above.
Example 2. Post 9/11-changes of “ground zero” definitions in The Merriam-Webster Dictionaries.
“Broadening” of meanings of “ground zero” in two Merriam-Webster Dictionaries.
Above: The Merriam-Webster and Garfield Dictionary (published 1999, ISBN 0-87779-626-2).
Below: The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (New edition 2004, ISBN 978-0-87779-930-6).
Please, note that other definitions are identical – such as that of “ground swell”, “ground water”, “ground work” and “group 1” – but not the definition of “ground zero”. Note also that an additional “meaning” here differs from that in the above Random House’s attempt.
Example 3. Post 9/11-changes of “ground zero” definitions in Collins English Dictionaries.
“Expanding” of meanings of “ground zero” in 2 Collins English Dictionaries.
Above: Collins English Dictionary – published in 1991 Major New Edition (ISBN 0 00 433286-5 Standard).
Below: new Collins English Dictionary (Ninth Edition 2007, ISBN 978-0-00-722899-7).
Make sure to note that all definitions of the word “group” below our targeted term are absolutely identical. But “ground zero”, in addition to the justifiable third meaning, has “strangely” acquired the second meaning in the after-9/11 edition of the same dictionary.
It would be understandable, if some extra definitions were added in regard to the demolition grounds of the World Trade Center – like it was in the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 2nd Edition – mentioned above, or like it was done in some Longman’s dictionaries.
Strangely enough, it was not the case in the two examples above with the Random House’s and the Merriam-Webster’s concoctions. It was other extra definitions (which moreover, conspicuously differ from each other) added to the original meaning of “ground zero”.
And it seems that neither of these two conspicuously different additional meanings has anything to do with Manhattan’s Ground Zero.
Though, as you could guess, in reality there was a direct relevance between such a strange “broadening” in the former definition of “ground zero”, and a nuclear catastrophe that occurred on 9/11 in Manhattan that earned such a strange nuclear name to that place.
Those so-called “good guys” from the FBI who did all their best to conduct the unprecedented 9/11 cover-up, simply could not afford to leave this most revealing definition with its former sense without “broadening” it at least a little bit.
And we have to understand them, indeed… If they would not do such a “broadening” of the definition of “ground zero” it would not be only the FBI agents alone who would demand full haz-mat suits to be issued to protect their precious selves – like those FBI agents mentioned by poor John Walcott in this article:
Apparently, every ground zero responder and every Manhattan resident would demand his full has-mat suit too. Along with comprehensible explanation on what really happened at “Ground Zero”.
I guess from now on the reader could realize, at last, that “ground zero” designation of the WTC demolition spot had nothing to do with post-9/11 meanings of that strange term, but had to do exclusively with its FORMER meaning.
And from now on when you encounter, for example, the “ground zero” designation of the spot of 1995 Oklahoma bombing, you will be able to realize that back in 1995 “ground zero” did not have any idiomatic meaning and words “ground zero” was merely a Civil Defense’s designation. And when such a place was designated as “ground zero” it only meant that a deep crater in front of the Alfred P Murrah Federal building was indeed a hypocenter of a nuclear explosion that destroyed that building…
Do you still wish to argue? But don’t forget one important point: cause always goes first, while consequence follows and it can not be otherwise. Ground zero definition was expanded only AFTER September 11, 2001. That is why BEFORE that date ground zero had no other meaning than a place of a nuclear explosion…
Dimitri A. Khalezov, a former Soviet citizen, a former commissioned officer of the so-called “military unit 46179”, otherwise known as “the Special Control Service” of the 12th Chief Directorate of the Defense Ministry of the USSR. The Special Control Service, also known as the Soviet atomic (later “nuclear”) intelligence was a secret military unit responsible for detecting of nuclear explosions (including underground nuclear tests) of various adversaries of the former USSR as well as responsible for controlling of observance of various international treaties related to nuclear testing and to peaceful nuclear explosions. After September the 11th Khalezov undertook some extensive 9/11 research and proved that the Twin Towers of World Trade Center as well as its building 7 were demolished by three underground thermo-nuclear explosions – which earned the very name “ground zero” to the demolition site. Moreover, he testifies that he knew about the in-built so-called “emergency nuclear demolition scheme” of the Twin Towers as long ago as back in the ’80s – while being a serviceman in the Soviet Special Control Service.
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