use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

iz·zard (ĭzərd)
Share:
n.
Informal
The letter z.

[Probably variant of Scots ezed, variant of ZED.]

Word History: The curious and charming word izzard, meaning "the letter z," is practically limited to certain fixed expressions in American vernacular English, such as from A to izzard, "from beginning to end," and not to know A from izzard, "not to know even the most basic things." The English lexicographer Samuel Johnson mentions the word izzard as part of his attempt to explain the sound of the letter z in the grammar of English he placed at the beginning of his Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755: Z begins no word originally English; it has the sound, as its name izzard ... expresses, of an s uttered with a closer compression of the palate. In Johnson's time, a variant name for the letter z, uzzard, was also in use. Izzard and uzzard are related to zed, the usual name of the letter z in British English. In Scottish English, z was also once known as ezed, and this form gives us a clue to a possible origin of izzard. The name may have developed from the phrase pronounced at the end of a recitation of the alphabet in Old French, et zede, "and zed" ("and zee" in American English). The Old French word for the letter z, zede, descends from Late Latin zēta, and the Late Latin word itself goes back to the name used by the Greeks for their letter ζ, zēta.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.