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zero tolerance

This page is about the idiom zero tolerance

American English


If something is given zero tolerance, it won't be accepted even once.

For example

  • Because of the school's zero-tolerance policy, our boy was expelled for smoking just one cigarette.

  • How can a society based on Christian morals and forgiveness of sin have a zero-tolerance approach to petty crime?


This idiom is typically used in American English but may be used in other varieties of English too.

Quick Quiz

If a zero-tolerance policy on crime is adopted, people are sent to jail after

a. their first offence

b. their first chance

c. their first warning
a) their first offence b) their first chance c) their first warning

Idiom of the Day

Contributor: Matt Errey