Above – the Collins English Dictionary– the 2001 and the 2003 editions.
Above – The New Penguin English Dictionary – the 2000 and the 2003 editions.
Above – Longman Advanced American Dictionary – the 2000 and the 2007 editions.
Above – The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary – the 1995 and the 2006 editions.
Above – The American Heritage Desk Dictionary of 2001 and 2013 editions.
Above – Merriam-Webster’s biggest dictionary - Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged of 1986 and 2002 editions.
Above – Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of 1999 and Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary of 2010 (the first dictionary has never been re-issued, while the second one was not even published before the 9/11 events, however, these two dictionaries are approximately equal in their status and are equal when it comes to the number of pages and numbers of words and definitions).
Don’t be surprised that almost every new English dictionary printed after 9/11 has begun to describe “ground zero” as having more than one sense. Now, at least 3-5 new meanings have been ascribed to this particular term, ranging from some supposed “great devastation”, “great disorder” and “busy activities” to some supposed “basic level” and “starting point” definitions. Some preferred another approach: editors of the 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 “bomb” is supposed to be nuclear or thermo-nuclear in nature. In addition to all of this, these days almost every dictionary – whether big or small – has begun to include this (to be exact “these”) definitions.
The term “ground zero”, obviously due to being such a specialized term prior to 9/11, existed only in really big English dictionaries – such as Webster’s Unabridged, full Collins, full American Heritage, and other similar large dictionaries (and even in those it contained only the single correct meaning of the term). It didn’t exist in smaller dictionaries – such as those intended for students and for advanced learners (with the only exception being the Longman Advanced American Dictionary – which is mentioned above). For example, “ground zero” was absent in Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionaries in their 4th, 5th and 6th Editions published before September 11, 2001. Even Oxford’s 4th special “Encyclopedic” version (which was about 50% larger compared to the regular one) did not contain any reference to the term “ground zero”. Only Oxford’s Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of 7th Edition first published in 2005 began describing this term at last.
Post-9/11 editions of the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners and the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, all kinds of new Merriam-Webster’s Dictionaries, the majority of new American Heritage Dictionaries, the new Collins English, the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary and many other new dictionaries and encyclopedias after the September 11 affair have all begun to include “ground zero” and to define it in such a sense that it might supposedly have more than one meaning, all trying their best to divert attention away from the former nuclear (and only nuclear) nature of this term. By the way, editors of the last mentioned above Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary should be praised for not having deceived their readers: they were brave enough not to include any misleading definitions of the term “ground zero” in their post-9/11 dictionary, which is in sharp contrast to every other dictionary that was edited at the behest of the 9/11 cover-up. It was reported there had even been attempts to prove that the WTC was already referred to as “ground zero” even before September 11, 2001. All these post-9/11 linguistic efforts in attempting to obscure the term “ground zero” are understandable indeed. That obviously 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 just leave this particular term in future editions of dictionaries with only its former sense alone…