zephyr

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See also: Zephyr, zéphyr, and Zéphyr

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

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

Pronunciation[edit]

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Noun[edit]

zephyr (plural zephyrs)

  1. A light wind from the west.
    • 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.
    • c. 1609, William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, Act IV, Scene 2,[2]
      O thou goddess,
      Thou divine Nature, how thyself thou blazon’st
      In these two princely boys! They are as gentle
      As zephyrs blowing below the violet,
      Not wagging his sweet head []
    • 1796, John Gabriel Stedman, Narrative, of a five years’ expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, London: J. Johnson, Volume I, Chapter 2, p. 31,[3]
      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, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Chapter 2,[4]
      It 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. G. Wells, The Wonderful Visit, Chapter 10,[5]
      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.

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Verb[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.
    • 1879, Robert Stephen Hawker, “An Inscription for an Aged Oak” in The Poetical Works, London: The Bodley Head, p. 171,[6]
      There was a time
      When the soft zephyring spring came joyfully,
      Like a young bride, with bloom upon her cheek—
    • 1908, Clarence E. Mulford, The Coming of Hopalong Cassidy, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, Chapter 4, p. 60,[7]
      There was a sudden scrambling and thumping overhead and hot exclamations zephyred down to them.
    • 1922, Thomas Hardy, “An Experience” in Late Lyrics and Earlier with Many Other Verses, London: Macmillan, p. 111,[8]
      But there was a new afflation
      An aura zephyring round,
      That care infected not:
  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,[9]
      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,[10]
      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,[11]
      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.