zeph·​yr | \ ˈze-fər How to pronounce zephyr (audio) \

Definition of zephyr

1a : a breeze from the west
b : a gentle breeze
2 : any of various lightweight fabrics and articles of clothing

Synonyms for zephyr


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For centuries, poets have eulogized Zephyrus, the Greek god of the west wind, and his "swete breeth" (in the words of Geoffrey Chaucer). 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 poets and playwrights, including 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." Today, zephyr is also the sobriquet of a lightweight fabric and the clothing that is made from it.

Examples of zephyr in a Sentence

a summer zephyr gently stirred her hair
Recent Examples on the Web 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

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

First Known Use of zephyr

1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for zephyr

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

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Cite this Entry

“Zephyr.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zephyr. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for zephyr


zeph·​yr | \ ˈze-fər How to pronounce zephyr (audio) \

Kids Definition of zephyr

: a gentle breeze

More from Merriam-Webster on zephyr

Nglish: Translation of zephyr for Spanish Speakers


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