What does autoload do in bash/zsh?

I wasn’t able to find a documentation for the widely used autoload command in bash (with zsh). Does anybody can explain it in plain English?

A bit more specific: What does autoloading of modules mean, for example in this line:

autoload -Uz vcs_info

What does it do?

I’ve tried autoload --help, man autoload, googling – no success. Thanks!

Source: bash

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