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zip·per (zĭpər)
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n.
A fastening device consisting of parallel rows of metal or plastic teeth on adjacent edges of an opening that are interlocked by a sliding tab.
tr. & intr.v. zip·pered, zip·per·ing, zip·pers
To fasten or unfasten or become fastened or unfastened with a zipper; zip.

[Originally a trademark.]

Word History: Registered in 1925, zipper was originally a B.F. Goodrich trademark for overshoes with fasteners. A Goodrich executive is said to have slid the fastener up and down on the boot and exclaimed, "Zip 'er up," echoing the sound made by this clever device. Zip already existed as both a noun and verb referring to a light sharp sound or to motion accompanied by that kind of sound (zip was first recorded as a noun in 1875; as a verb, in 1852). Both words were imitations of the sound made by a rapidly moving object. As the fastener that "zipped" came to be used in other articles, its name was used as well. B.F. Goodrich sued to protect its trademark but was allowed to retain proprietary rights only over Zipper Boots. Zipper itself had moved into the world of common nouns.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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.

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