A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia, Page 18


Interstate 15 near Baker, California. The road name on the I-15 sign in the Mojave Desert of California comes from the name of a tiny town that used to exist some miles south of the highway. The place had many names over the years, although the springs at the place were usually called Soda Springs. The place was established as Hancock Redoubt in 1860, was called Fort Soda (or Camp Soda) 1866-68, and Soda (Soda Springs) until 1944, when an eccentric set up a resort there with a bootleg radio station whose call letters were ZZYZX. The resort closed in 1974 but has been resurrected as the Soda Springs California Desert Studies Center. Zzyzx survives as the name of the road to the site. [Information provided in 2008 by Robert C. Berlo of Livermore, Calif. Photo (1999) by Alvin Brattli.] A web page about Zzyzx is here.

Some of these words are the last words in a dictionary or other reference book. Some of these words do not appear in dictionaries. Dan Tilque, Philip Bennett, Stuart Kidd, James A. Landau, Jason Weill, and Charles Turner contributed to this page, which was last revised on March 30, 2019.

ZUZIMa peoplelast proper name in the Bible, Genesis 14:5
ZSIGMONDY THEOREMa mathematical theoremCRC Concise Encyclopedia of Mathematics
ZWISCHENZUGan "in-between move" in chessThe Chess Thinking Dictionary by Bruce Pandolfini
ZWODDERa drowsy, stupid state of body or mindEnglish Dialect Dictionary
ZYGOMATICpertaining to a cavity in a bone of the temples like a yokeA Compendious Dictionary of the English Language (1806)
ZYLKStown in LouisianaStreet Atlas USA (last town name)
ZYMOSANan insoluble polysaccharide fraction of yeast cell wallsMerriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition
ZYMOTICfermentative or infectiousWorcester's School Dictionary (1883)
ZYMURGYthe study of fermentationolder MW Collegiate Dictionaries
ZYRIANa former term for Komi, a language spoken in an area of Russiacurrently the last entry in the OED
ZYTHUMancient Egyptian malt beerWinston Dictionary (1942) and An American Dictionary of the English Language (1902)
ZYUGANOV, GENNADYRussian politicianGrolier Encyclopedia (1997) last entry
ZYWIECcity in PolandRand McNally International Atlas
ZYWNYPolish violinistEncyclopaedia Britannica (1977)
ZYWOCICEvillage in SW Poland
ZYXINa protein associated with focal adhesions and lamellipodia in eucaryotic cells...
ZYXNOIDany word which a crossword puzzle solver makes up to complete the last blankSniglets Dictionary
ZYXOMMAa genus of dragonflies in the family Libellulidae
ZYXTobsolete Kentish 2nd sing. ind. pres. of seeOxford English Dictionary, first edition
ZYYItown in CyprusNational Geographic Atlas of the World, rev. 6th ed.
ZYZMAriver in BelarusRand McNally New International Atlas
ZYZOMYSa genus of rodentsFunk & Wagnalls encyclopedia (entire text)
ZYZYNvariant of CieszynThe New Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia (1951)
ZYZZAa genus of leafhoppers...
ZYZZLEvariant of zizzle, sizzleFunk & Wagnalls Practical Standard Dictionary (1935)
ZYZZOGETONa South American leaf hopperWebster's Third New International Dictionary and Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition
ZYZZYVAa South American weevilAmerican Heritage Dictionary
ZYZZYXa genus of wasps...
ZYZZYXDONTAa snail with characters the extreme opposite of Aaadonta...
ZYZZYZUSa genus of coelenterates...
ZZzigzag or zigzag approachInfo Please On-Line Dictionary
ZZ.abbreviation for gingerInfo Please On-Line Dictionary
Z-ZEROa hypothetical elementary particle...
ZZ GENOTYPEa deficiency of alpha1-antitrypsinStedman's Online Medical Dictionary
ZZTan ASCII based computer game created in 1991 by Tim SweeneyWikipedia
ZZT-ooppossibly the first in-game scripting language ever writtenWikipedia
ZZYZXa road intersecting Interstate 15 near Baker, CaliforniaStreet Atlas USA
ZZYZXENSISpart of Apolysis zzyzxensis, a bombyliid fly (named for the Desert Studies Area on Zzyzx Road)...
ZZZused to represent the sound of snoringThe Random House College Dictionary, Cambridge International Dictionary of English, Encarta World English Dictionary, North American Edition
ZZZQUILan over-the-counter sleep aidzzzquil.com
ZZZZZtitle of an episode of the original The Outer Limits television show, which first aired on 27 January 1964apparently the last entry alphabetically in Wikipedia, checked on Nov. 27, 2006

According to Jackie Hyman, the last four words of Noah Webster were ZYMOGEN, ZYMOGRAM, ZYMOSAN, ZYZZLEGETTEM.

In the entry for grok, the Oxford English Dictionary has the following quotation from the Mar. 15, 1969, New Yorker: "I was thinking we ought to get together somewhere, Mr. Zzyzbyzynsky, and grok about our problems."

Under the main entry for Z in the OED2, there are the following sub-entries: zzp, Zzzz, Zzzzed, Zzzt, Zzzzzz, Zzzzzzz, ZZZZZZZZZ.

According to a book on the history of the Burlington Railroad, in the early 1930's the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad (now part of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad) was developing something new: a Diesel-powered streamliner. At one meeting between the President of the CB&Q and his top brass, the question arose: What do we name this new streamliner? One of the executives present said that he was curious as to what was the final word in the dictionary, as he would like to refer to the new train as "the last word" in transportation. The President called for a dictionary and found the final entry was for "zymurgy". However, in looking through the "z" entries, someone found the entry "Zephyr" and that is how the famous Burlington Zephyrs got their name.

The OED2 has ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ (42 letters, a representation of snoring) in a citation at 'Z'; however this "word" does not appear in the OED2 as a vocabulary entry.

In The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Jim, the gentleman caller says, "Knowledge--Zzzzzp! Money --Zzzzzp! Power! That's the cycle democracy is built on!"

In The Tunnel by William H Gass, ZZZZ is the sound a zipper makes: "Zzzz, he says the zipper goes."

In the on-line "Philosophy of Mind" Dictionary, ZZZZ is jocularly quoted as meaning "The mental state most often encountered by undergrads in philosophy of mind courses."

According to the Strange & Unusual Dictionaries web site: ZRP is the sound of an android or robot malfunctioning, as in The Metallic Touch; ZZYXX is an AudioAnimatronic figure originally built to serve as a customs inspector in Tokyo Disneyland's "Star Tours" attraction; and ZZZTT is the sound made by an electronic field, as in the comic book Electric Fear.

The Music-Lovers Encyclopedia by Rupert Hughes (all editions from 1914 to 1956) has this entry: "zzxjoanw (shaw) Maori. 1. Drum. 2. Fife. 3. Conclusion." According to Philip Cohen in Word Ways (Nov. 1976), there are several problems with this entry, notably the fact that it's an impossible Maori word, both in spelling and pronunciation. Cohen suspects that Hughes made up the word as a joke. In his book, Earth, David Brin has a Maori character playing a zzxjoanw. Asked about this, Brin said that he'd gotten the word from Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary. Anne Woodley, who is from New Zealand, agrees that ZZXJOANW is not a Maori word. She writes, "There are no Z, X or J in the Maori language - also the the phonetics aren't right for the Maori, or indeed any Pacific Island language, all of which come from the same family."

The last word in Czech dictionaries is ŽŽONKA (a Russian drink distilled from cognac or rum with sugar, lemon or other fruits and spice). Ž is the final letter in the Czech alphabet, following the letter Z [Jan Pulkrábek].

In the Manhattan white pages, the last name for many years was Budd Zzzyp. In Smile for the Camera b Kelle James he is quoted, “Budd Zzzyp’s the last number in the phone book. If somebody needs my number and they don’t have a pen, I say it’s easy to find, I’m the last number in the book.” [Ken Shaw]

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