How we started calling the former World Trade Center ‘ground zero’
The Commercial Appeal
This time 10 years ago, "ground zero" was used to refer to the place where a nuclear explosion occurs, or the center of intense, violent change. On Sept. 11, 2001, AP National Writer Jerry Schwartz redefined it, writing, "Emergency vehicles flooded into lower Manhattan. No one knew what happened; the towers, target of a terrorist bombing in 1993, seemed to be ground zero once again." Schwartz, now an editor, tells The Commercial Appeal's Richard Morgan, "This is what we do. We choose words." Linguist Ben Zimmer suggests that "it may be time to retire 'ground zero' now that the site is about construction, not destruction." (AP style, by the way, has remained "ground zero," even now.)
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