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Most of us think zero means "nothing." In fact, this is one of the definitions for it in most dictionaries. The word zero comes from the Latinized form zephirium of the Arabic sifr which in turn is a translation of the Hindu sunya meaning "void" or "empty." In the thirteenth century, Nemorarius introduced the Arabic sifr, as cifra, into Germany. This led to the development of our present word, cipher.

Historically, zero has two meanings, zero as a number and zero as a placeholder. The latter was used before zero was even considered as a number.

Zero as a Placeholder
Zero as a Number