zeit·​ge·​ber | \ ˈtsīt-ˌgā-bər, ˈzīt- \

Definition of zeitgeber

: an environmental agent or event (such as the occurrence of light or dark) that provides the stimulus setting or resetting a biological clock of an organism

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Zeitgebers are nature's alarm clocks-both biologically and etymologically. The word zeitgeber derives from a combination of two German terms, Zeit, which means "time," and Geber, which means "giver"-so a zeitgeber is literally a "time giver." In nature, zeitgebers tend to be cyclic or recurring patterns that help keep the body's circadian rhythms operating in an orderly way. For plants and animals, the daily pattern of light and darkness and the warmer and colder temperatures between day and night serve as zeitgebers, cues that keep organisms functioning on a regular schedule. For humans, societally imposed cycles, such as the schedule of the work or school day and regular mealtimes, can become zeitgebers as well.

Examples of zeitgeber in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

These clocks are wound by various environmental cues known as zeitgebers (time givers), such as light and temperature. Ferris Jabr, Smithsonian, "How Moonlight Sets Nature’s Rhythms," 22 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'zeitgeber.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of zeitgeber

1958, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for zeitgeber

German, from Zeit time + Geber giver

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14 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for zeitgeber

The first known use of zeitgeber was in 1958

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More Definitions for zeitgeber


zeit·​ge·​ber | \ ˈtsīt-ˌgā-bər, ˈzīt- \

Medical Definition of zeitgeber

: an environmental agent or event (as the occurrence of light or dark) that provides the stimulus setting or resetting a biological clock of an organism

More from Merriam-Webster on zeitgeber

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with zeitgeber

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about zeitgeber

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to settle judicially or to act as judge

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