To zap someone

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Senior Member
Hi, I came across this phrase in a book by U. Vernon "Castle Hangnail":
"The old Sorceress used to zap bandits and take their money".

I am wondering what it might mean in this context? I've read the dictionary definition, which says it means "to erase electronically", but it doesn't make much sense here.
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    It's not clear to me; magic of any kind is not traditionally described as zapping, and we don't know from this whether the zapping means killing, or knocking out, or hypnotizing, or what other kind of thing a sorceress could do to get money from bandits.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    Originally, "zap!" was an interjection that was imitative of the noise that a science-fiction "ray-gun" was imagined to sound when it was fired.
    slang (orig. U.S.).
    1. Used to represent the sound of a ray gun, laser, bullet, etc.; also fig., expressing any sudden or dramatic event.
    1929 P. F. Nowlan in Washington Post 7 May 16/3 Ahead of me was one of those golden dragon Mongols, with a deadly disintegrator ray... Br-r-rr-r-z-zzz-zap.

    The verb "to zap" (transitive) then came to mean making any sudden action action that resulted in death, injury or severe disadvantage.

    The witch in your example uses magic - magic (emenating from a wand or fingers) is very similar to the technology of a ray-gun...
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