1 a : a breeze from the west
b : a gentle breeze
2 : any of various lightweight fabrics and articles of clothing
Did You Know?
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.
"There was not even a zephyr stirring; the dead noonday heat had even stilled the songs of the birds." — Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876
"Thrown properly, with as little spin as possible, the only forces acting on a knuckleball are gravity and wind. That means any last-second zephyr can knock a knuckler off its path and into the virtual 'box' of a strike zone." — J. P. Hoornstra, The Los Angeles Daily News, 20 Nov. 2019
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
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