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I found Zilch. Every. Dang. Year. in A bittersweet farewell to the Obamas at their last White House Easter egg roll.

Zilch is nothing at all

What does Zilch. Every. Dang. Year. mean in this article?

16

The key to understanding this comes in the article's next two sentences, which I will abridge here:

We’ve entered the lottery for years now, hoping each time get lucky. And every year, we came up snake eyes.

Of course snake eyes means a bad roll in dice, and zilch is slang for "nothing."

So, the writer is saying:

Year after year, we got nothing.

but saying it in a way that reveals frustration. I imagine her saying it through gritted teeth, or maybe by pounding her fist on the desk with each word:

Every (bang!) dang (bang!) year (bang!).

Putting a period after each word in a short phrase has been gaining traction lately; it's intended to help the reader regard each word emphatically and express emotion. You can read more about it at this ELU question.

  • Putting a period after each word in a short phrase has been gaining traction lately. Indeed, I have come across it too. It just sounds cool. For example, a sadist saying to someone who just made a grave mistake: You. Are. Finished. – cst1992 Mar 29 '16 at 12:39
  • 4
    Good explanation, but while snake eyes is an unlucky roll of dice, it specifically means rolling a 1 on two dice in a single roll. I thought this might be an important nuance for ELL. – UnhandledExcepSean Mar 29 '16 at 14:44
  • If you've ever seen the Comic Book Guy character on the Simpsons deliver a line in the format "Worst. [insert word here]. Ever.", it illustrates the emphasis that is intended by this usage of periods. Here's one example. – Dan Henderson Mar 29 '16 at 16:41
  • Shatner did it since the 1960's in his famous Captain Kirk role. – MarkHu Mar 29 '16 at 19:15
2

Zilch is a colloquial term for zero or nothing. Dang is a milder version of damn. Hopefully every and year should be fairly self explanatory.

The phrase as a whole, taken in the context of the article, means that every year the author has applied to play on the South Lawn of the White House at Easter, but has not been chosen.

The use of full stops to separate each word is a device to add emphasis.

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