zephyr

noun

zeph·​yr ˈze-fər How to pronounce zephyr (audio)
1
a
: a breeze from the west
b
: a gentle breeze
2
: any of various lightweight fabrics and articles of clothing

Did you know?

To build on a classic lyric by Bob Dylan, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows—especially if you know that wind is a zephyr. You see, poets have eulogized Zephyrus, the Greek god of the west wind—and his “swete breeth” (in the words of Geoffrey Chaucer)—for centuries. Zephyrus, the personified west wind, eventually evolved into zephyr, a word for a breeze that is westerly or gentle, or both. Breezy zephyr blew into English with the help of such delightfully windy wordsmiths as William Shakespeare, who used the word in his play Cymbeline: “Thou divine Nature, thou thyself thou blazon’st / In these two princely boys! They are as gentle / As zephyrs blowing below the violet.”

Examples of zephyr in a Sentence

a summer zephyr gently stirred her hair
Recent Examples on the Web Pairing with Suzuki’s smart Mediterranean-Japanese cooking, Doi went all out with an array of sakes: Shikishima Junmai, a zephyr of peach blossoms and licorice; a tawny aged brew from 1988, as acidic and nutty as Oloroso sherry; blond mango sake as sweetly fragrant as Juicy Fruit gum. Adam Erace, Travel + Leisure, 14 Oct. 2023 Most summer days on the TMB are luxurious, with zephyrs rustling the pastures, blue skies, and great hiking temperatures. Doug Mayer, Outside Online, 15 Feb. 2023 The chilly zephyr of truth. Eric Zorn, chicagotribune.com, 22 June 2021 Not some Paris-in-the-springtime zephyr, but something better suited to wintertime and the coast of Brittany. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, 7 June 2019 The movements were more scene setting than story telling, with wafting, zephyr-like patterns from piano, the themes eliding wind to string voices in a delicate and tricky texture. By Libby Hanssen, kansascity, 16 July 2017 Windsurfers lean into the prevailing southwestern zephyr at incredible speeds. Dino Vournas, The Mercury News, 21 May 2017 What lingers from this alien encounter is neither the wizardry nor the climax but the zephyr of emotional intensity that blows through the film. Adam Davidson, The New Yorker, 24 Jan. 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'zephyr.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English Zephirus, west wind (personified), from Latin Zephyrus, god of the west wind & zephyrus west wind, zephyr, from Greek Zephyros & zephyros

First Known Use

1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of zephyr was in 1567

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Dictionary Entries Near zephyr

Cite this Entry

“Zephyr.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zephyr. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

zephyr

noun
zeph·​yr ˈzef-ər How to pronounce zephyr (audio)
1
: a breeze from the west
2
: a gentle breeze

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