The 26th, and hence final, letter of our English fucking alphabet. Moved from sixth place by the Romans, beginning the great Western tradition of monkeying around with things that don't matter.1 Now used primarily for comic value2 and algebraic variable-juggling, but occasionally appears in legitimate written work.
Of special interest to encyclop椩sts is its metaphoric role. More than the factory's 5 o'clock whistle, more than the relationship's3 last restraining order, more, even, than the Social Security Administration's letter informing the widow that her husband's benefits have been terminated, the letter Z tells the diligent researcher that his or her long and weary journey draws near a close.4 Just a little bit longer now, just a few more late drunken nights, just one or two more snotty e-mails from faceless editors and you can sleep. Yes, for as long as the English language remains an unchanging monolith, resistant to all barbaric attacks, your work will stand. Nobody understands that it's not suicide if your work kills you,5 but at least you get some rest.
1. Really, who gives a capybara's ass about alphabetic order? Honestly, did Jesus Christ really mean "I am the completely arbitrary and human-centered beginning and equally implausible end" when he made his alpha-omega reference, or was it some kind of in-joke for his drinking buddies? The only ones who care are librarians, dictionary writers, and their slavish adherents—and they'll be first up against the wall when the revolution comes.
2. If comedians were ever prohibited from using the letter Z (and believe me, it'll happena), our culture would lose its rich heritage of making fun of Germans and, to a lesser extent, Dutch people. Oh, and let's not forget funny animal names like zebra. Ha. And what about the Brits—Zed sounds like a name for a prospector or his mule, not the anchor for an elite 26-member team that supports Western civilization. I would gently insult other nationalities, especially the Irish and the Zimbabwean, if I had more space (see Color, Hatred Sees No).
3. See Fucking, Euphemisms for.
4. "And not a moment too soon," thinks the reader, "I hate this guy!"
5. Ask Kurt Cobain. Heck, ask god.
a. Nobody believed me about Y2K either, and now they're all under water.
Rob "Lights Out" Lightner, Contrib.