Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I can only think of one person with this word as a first name: that is the comedian Zero Mostel, whom you may remember from his show Fiddler on the Roof. When I am saying a number aloud, such as when I am giving my phone number to someone, I prefer to say "zero" than "o". Admittedly, the letter "o" and the zero are sometimes hard to distinguish from each other. Sometimes the distinction is made clear by using an oval shape for zero, and a perfectly round shape for the letter "o". Also, a diagonal line often appears in the number zero. Most people say "o" when they are speaking about a number. I try not to do this, but I do understand that often it is simpler to avoid the word zero in such numbers as our area code (510), calling it "five ten". Poor neglected zero! For the rest of my life, I plan to say your name at every opportunity.


  1. If Wikipedia is to be believed, Zero Mostel was named 'Samuel Joel Mostel' and acquired the nickname because his parents often said he would amount to nothing. ;-)

    1. Thanks for your comment. I read it shortly after seeing a short clip of Zero Mostel on PBS