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See also: Zephyr, zéphyr, and Zéphyr


Alternative forms[edit]


From Latin zephyrus (west wind), from Ancient Greek Ζέφυρος (Zéphuros).



zephyr (plural zephyrs)

  1. A light wind from the west.
    Synonym: westerly
    • 1671, R. Bohun, A Discourse Concerning the Origine and Properties of Wind, Oxford: Tho. Bowman, pp. 149-150,[1]
      The Western [winds] have been Counted the mildest, & most Auspicious of all others; and were so highly in favour with the Poets, that they thought them worthy of the Golden Age, and to refresh the Elysian groves. [...] But though the Breathing Zephyrs are so much celebrated in Poems and Romances, and happily were kinder to the delicious countries of Italy, & Greece, yet wee find no lesse malignity in their natures from particular accidents and climats, then what wee have observ’d of other Winds.
  2. Any light refreshing wind; a gentle breeze.
    • 1611 April (first recorded performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Cymbeline”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene ii], page 388, column 2:
      O thou Goddeſſe, / Thou diuine Nature; thou[sic – meaning how] thy ſelfe thou blazon'ſt / In theſe two Princely Boyes: they are as gentle / As Zephires blowing below the Violet, / Not wagging his ſweet head; [...]
    • 1796, J[ohn] G[abriel] Stedman, chapter II, in Narrative of a Five Years’ Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, in Guiana, on the Wild Coast of South America; [], volume I, London: J[oseph] Johnson, [], and J. Edwards, [], OCLC 13966308, page 31:
      The eaſterly or trade winds, which generally blow between the Tropics, are extremely refreſhing to the coaſt of Guiana, between the hours of eight or ten in the morning, and ſix o'clock in the evening, when they ceaſe to operate, and a zephyr is ſcarcely ever heard to whiſper during the night.
    • 1835, William Gilmore Simms, The Partisan, Harper, Chapter XI, page 135:
      The dusk of evening came on, soft in its solemnity, and unoppressive even in its gloom, under the sweet sky and unmolested zephyr, casting its pleasant shadows along the edges of the grove.
    • 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, “The Carpet-bag”, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, OCLC 57395299, page 10:
      It [a house] stood on a sharp bleak corner, where that tempestuous wind Euroclydon kept up a worse howling than ever it did about poor Paul's tossed craft. Euroclydon, nevertheless, is a mighty pleasant zephyr to any one in-doors, with his feet on the hob quietly toasting for bed.
  3. Anything of fine, soft, or light quality, especially fabric.
    • 1895, H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, “At the Vicarage. Chapter X.”, in The Wonderful Visit (Macmillan’s Colonial Library), London; New York, N.Y.: Macmillan and Co., OCLC 760967665, page 39:
      The world hummed and spun about him. There was a whirling of zephyr skirts, four impassioned faces sweeping towards the open door of the passage that ran through the vicarage. He felt his position went with them.

Derived terms[edit]



zephyr (third-person singular simple present zephyrs, present participle zephyring, simple past and past participle zephyred)

  1. (intransitive, poetic) To blow or move like a zephyr, or light breeze.
  2. (transitive, poetic) To blow or blow on gently like a zephyr; to cool or refresh with a gentle breeze.
    • 1849, letter from Leonidas Lent Hamline dated 15 December, 1849, in Walter Clark Palmer, Life and Letters of Leonidas L. Hamline, D.D., New York: Carlton & Porter, 1866, Chapter 15, p. 361,[4]
      He was a fragrant poison, a zephyred pestilence spread through all the city.
    • 1914, Leonard Lanson Cline, untitled sonnet in Poems, Boston: The Poet Lore Company, p. 76,[5]
      Ah, but the skies are joyous in the spring,
      From dawn to dusk exuberantly blue;
      White-tufted oftentimes with clouds that do
      But wanton in heaven’s zephyred merrying!
    • 1914, Juliane Paulsen (pseudonym of Juliane Grace Hansen), “Poppy Fantasy” in And Then Came Spring, Boston: The Gorham Press, p. 49,[6]
      Oh, graciously she led my soul within
      Where ever and forever went a wind
      In zephyred streams of poppies coursing sweet
      About the place, and waves of poppy heat
      About us there.