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Out of late, I have noticed the use of zas (or zasca sometimes, which seems to be a variant) to summarize rude, sarcastic or funny replies:

Ayer le propuse tomar algo a una chica y zas, me contestó que estaba esperando a su novio.
Yesterday I proposed having a drink to a girl and zas, she replied that she was waiting for her boyfriend.

I noticed that the DLE has the onomatopoeia zas to express a hit or blow:

zas
1. onomat. U. para imitar el sonido que hace un golpe, o el golpe mismo. U. t. repetida.

And this could very well be generalized into "moral hits" in form of replies.

I found out a short scene of Family Guy (Padre de Familia in Spanish) that says: zas en toda la boca.

enter image description here

So: what is the exact use and origin of both "zas"? Are they used also in Hispanic America?

  • En Mafalda n.º 3, «¡es horrible! ¡la gente estudia, termina su carrera y… ¡zas! se va al extranjero!», así por lo menos en la Argentina se usa. – user0721090601 Oct 17 '17 at 14:30
  • Zas se entiende, zasca nunca la había oído. Buscando al respecto veo que hay muchos memes sobre "zas en toda la boca". Parece que es una frase de moda. – DGaleano Oct 17 '17 at 14:36
  • youtube.com/watch?v=ZIfhiExIun8 Ahí usan "zas en toda la boca" como traducción del famoso "bazinga", y es una traducción ibérica. De esa forma si no entiendo su uso. La forma "Mafalda" si me es familiar. – DGaleano Oct 17 '17 at 14:43
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Famili Guy's Peter Griffin, the character shown in your image, likes to use the following expression:

Pow! Right in the kisser!

This expression was used in the show for the first time in episode 17 of season 4, Fat Guy Strangler, which aired in the USA on November 2005.

When the episode was aired in Spain, dubbed in Spanish as always, the above expression was translated somewhat literally as follows:

¡Zas! ¡En toda la boca!

I can't find the exact airing date of that episode for Spain, but dates for more recent episodes show a 6-month delay between the USA airings and the Spain ones. So the "Padre de Familia" episodes where the "zas!" expression was first used, were probably aired for the first time in Spain in mid-to-late 2006.

Now, if we check Google Trends, we can see that the Spanish version was totally unheard of before September 2006, but became popular after that date:

zas!

So there's a strong cause to think that the expression was made popular in Spain because of its appearance in a Family Guy episode.

So popular, in fact, that the dubbing for another famous, non-animated sitcom used it in place of the original "Bazinga!", despite the Spanish version being way too long to fit in two syllables and having a slightly different meaning.

From there it just entered into colloquial use.

  • Esto responde a lo a «zas, en toda la boca», pero no al origen de zas que sin duda viene de muy antes. Quizás tendríamos que recurrir a los tebeos o antes. – user0721090601 Oct 17 '17 at 16:55
  • @guifa Indeed, but OP's main question was about the current use of zas as explained, not about the origin of the word itself. I also avoided mentioning zasca, because I don't know if it is related. – walen Oct 17 '17 at 18:02
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I would like to add that zas has a long trajectory inside the Spanish language. The Diccionario de Autoridades already contains an entry for this word:

ZAS. Voz, con que se significa el sonido del golpe, ù el golpe mismo.

Also worth mentioning this other entry:

ZAS, ZAS. Voces, con que se significa la repetición del golpe, ù del sonido dél. Usase freqüentemente para significar los que se dán à la puerta, quando se llama a ella.

And you'll probably laugh out loud when you see this other entry:

ZASCANDIL. Voz, con que se significa el golpe repentino, ò accion impensada, y pronta, o sin reflexion, tomada la alusion del golpe, y ruido, que ocasiona el candil quando se cae.

So the word zas already alluded to the sound of a hit in the 18th century. It is an obvious evolution that it is now used also to express that something has been said and you felt like been hit in the face.

Its origin, I would say, is just onomatopoeic. The first cases seems to be from the 17th century, so its origin may be a bit earlier. Good ol' Gonzalo Correas explains us its use in the following terms using his particular way of writing:

¡Zas!
Por: sonido de golpe.

¡Zas, kandil!
Kuando se oie dar algún porrazo; o se ve, i da.

Gonzalo Correas, "Vocabulario de refranes y frases proverbiales", 1627 (Spain).

And it also appears in the Quixote:

—Eso creo yo bien —respondió don Quijote—, porque he tenido con el gigante la más descomunal y desaforada batalla que pienso tener en todos los días de mi vida, y de un revés, ¡zas!, le derribé la cabeza en el suelo, y fue tanta la sangre que le salió, que los arroyos corrían por la tierra como si fueran de agua.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, "El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha", 1605 (Spain).

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The origin is obviously onomatopeic (the very cite in the question says so):

zas 1. onomat. U. para imitar el sonido que hace un golpe, o el golpe mismo. U. t. repetida.

For me it seems logical that it refers a noise of wind shearing / wind cutting fast object. That would explain why its use in the popular Family Guy's scene. It's pure speculation, but it looks logical to me, as it is probably the sound of an arrow, or some kind of fast object through the wind.

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