Definition of "zero-sum" []

  • Of or relating to a situation in which a gain is offset by an equal loss: ". . .under the zero-sum budgeting system that governs federal spending, the money for spinal research is likely to be deducted from some other research account” ( Daniel S. Greenburg). (adjective)
  • Relating to a situation in which one person's loss is equal to the other person's gain (adjective)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved. (c) HarperCollins Publishers Ltd 2016

Use "zero-sum" in a sentence
  • "Guy Bechor, a Mideast expert at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, said months of unrest in Syria can be expected as Assad's ruling Alawite minority battles protesters in what he called a "zero-sum game for both sides.""
  • "Johnson: Unfortunately now, I don't think we have the leadership either in the White House or the Congress to end what I call a zero-sum game mentality towards the U.S. economy."
  • "Such a game might be called zero-sum or purely “distributive.”"