zap gun n.

= ray gun n.

Now chiefly historical or humorous.


  • 1934 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 25 Oct. 3/2 (advt.)

    Buck Rogers Zap Gun 50Β’.

  • 1947 Fantasy Review Feb.–Mar. 9 page image

    ASF’s competitor-mags are stocked by professional pulp-writers with plots about lush, semi-clad damsels, greenish monsters with nasty notions, stalwart heroes with zap-guns.

  • 1951 Letter in Planet Stories Mar. 39/2 page image

    Mounting my worple (Gruzlaks are out of fashion), and slinging my Zap-gun across my muscular, sunbronzed shoulders, I gallop off into the purple dusk.

  • 1969 K. Vonnegut Slaughterhouse-Five iv. 65 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. bibliography

    Billy’s will was paralyzed by a zap gun aimed at him from one of the portholes.

  • 2012 N.Y. Times (National ed.) 25 May c6/2

    They break out the neuralyzers and the zap guns in their continuing mission to deal with the extraterrestrials hidden in our midst.

Research requirements

antedating 1934

Earliest cite

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Research History
In the OED as a subsidiary sense for Zap: earliest cite is from Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five" (1969)

The title of Philip K. Dick's 1967 novel "The Zap Gun" is an antedating.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1954 cite from "Reconnaissance" by P.W Cutler.
Bill Mullins submitted a 1947 cite from Fantasy Review.
Bill Mullins submitted a 1934 cite from a newspaper database.
Bill Mullins submitted a 1951 cite from a letter to Planet Stories.

Last modified 2022-02-14 17:10:47
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.