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Of or relating to a situation in which a gain is offset by an equal loss: "Under the zero-sum budgeting system that governs federal spending, the money for spinal research is likely to be deducted from some other research account" (Daniel S. Greenburg).
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
relating to a situation in which one person's loss is equal to the other person's gain
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
denoting an element of game theory in which the amount lost is always equal to the amount gained: a zero-sum economy.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.