zombie; *zombi. The first spelling so predominates today — 500-to-1 in a 2008 LexisNexis search — that the original term is almost a lifeless corpse. *”Zombi” derives from “nzambi,” the Bantu name of a West African python deity thought to raise the dead. A generally disparaging term in common use (in the sense “a dullard”), “zombie” was, for example, what Canadian army regulars called draftees in World War II. The notion of a “zombie” as brain-eating monster evolved from horror movies, starting with White Zombie (1932), starring Bela Lugosi.
zonal; zonary. The adjective corresponding to “zone” is “zonal” in all but medical (obstetric) senses.
zonate (= arranged in zones) is the standard spelling. *”Zonated” is a variant.
zoology is pronounced /zoh-OL-uh-jee/ — not /zoo-OL-uh-jee/.
Zoroastrianism; *Zoroastrism. For the pre-Islamic religion in Persia, “Zoroastrianism” is the standard term. *”Zoroastrism” is a needless variant.
zwieback (= a sweetened bread that is baked and then sliced and toasted) is sometimes misspelled *”zweiback” — e.g.: “At his school, zweiback [read 'zwieback'], a type of German bread, was the preferred snack.” Jane Tinsley Swope, “Calvert and Hillyer,” Baltimore Sun, 26 Oct. 1994, at A15. The word is pronounced /SWEE-bak/ or /SWI-bak/.
*Invariably inferior form.
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Quotation of the Day: “According to Coleridge, it is no decisive mark of genius that a man should write well concerning himself. This cannot be ignored in any discussion of the many autobiographical novelists of our time.” Van Wyck Brooks, Opinions of Oliver Allston 297 (1941)).