What's the origin of the word "zilch" and how it came to mean nothing?
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Looking through Google books, “Joe Zilch” certainly seems to have been used in that way. It would be quite a coincidence if these two usages of "zilch" were unrelated. And unless someone can find an early attestation for "zilch" meaning "nothing", it would appear that "Joe Zilch" came first.
Stumbled upon the post and decided to post quick update from Etymonline:
zilch (n.) "nothing," 1957; "insignificant person," 1933, from use of Zilch as a generic comical-sounding surname for an insignificant person (especially Joe Zilch). There was a Mr. Zilch (1931), comic character in the magazine "Ballyhoo," and the use perhaps originated c. 1922 in U.S. college or theater slang. Probably a nonsense syllable, suggestive of the end of the alphabet, but Zilch is an actual German surname of Slavic origin.