Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Zephyr

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is zephyr. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

A zephyr is a breeze blowing from the west. More loosely, a zephyr can be any gentle breeze.

// We were relieved when a zephyr blew in just as the heat of the day was peaking, allowing us to remain comfortably on the beach for a little while longer.

ZEPHYR in Context

“As I played [the video game Okami], I’d pause to manually draw a slash, loop, or other shape using a calligraphy-style brush, creating a tornado or a fire. … An ‘O’ around a tree’s naked branches made it burst with cherry blossoms, a vision of abundance. A curlicue in the air created a zephyr that gently riffled through the sky. The world was my sketchbook, and I wanted to beautify the game’s gorgeous woodblock and sumi-e ink art style.” — Nicole Clark,, 8 Feb. 2023

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.”

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