a gentle, mild breeze.
The noun zephyr “west wind, the west wind personified, the god of the west wind” comes from Latin Zephyrus, a borrowing of Greek Zéphyros “(any) westerly wind, the west wind.” Greek poets conceived the winds as minor deities who live and feast in their own palaces or as unruly elemental forces controlled by the god Aeolus. For the Greeks, Zéphyros was the bringer of gentle spring and early summer breezes. Since at least the time of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, zephyrs have been associated with mild, gentle weather. Traditional etymology connects Zéphyros with zóphos “the west, darkness,” but there is no further etymology for either word. Zephyr entered English before a.d 1000.
There was not even a zephyr stirring; the dead noonday heat had even stilled the songs of the birds …
Isaac had dunked from the foul line, moving through the air with such power, authority and grace that he looked like a seasoned professional. Or a prehistoric bird riding a zephyr.
in relation to; compared with: income vis-à-vis expenditures.
The mere fact that vis-à-vis functions as an adverb, adjective, preposition, and noun all but guarantees many meanings, all semantically related: as an adverb the phrase means “face to face”; as an attributive adjective “face-to-face”; as a preposition “compared with; in relation to”; and as a noun “a person face to face with or opposite another one; a date at a social affair; a person of equal rank or authority.” The still obviously French term vis-à-vis has at least as many meanings as the English one. The French noun vis comes from Vulgar Latin vīsus “face,” from Latin vīsus “sight, vision, faculty of sight, form, appearance.” Vīsus is a derivative of the verb vidēre “to see, see with the mind’s eye, notice.” Vis-à-vis entered English in the mid-18th century.
Until recently, at least in the United States, our notions of privacy have been rooted in the Fourth Amendment’s delineation of the federal government’s powers vis-à-vis the individual citizen.
I’m a stockbroker, and … my timing has been off lately vis-a-vis the market …
any speech or discourse of bitter denunciation.
The adjective and noun philippic come from Latin Philippicus “of or pertaining to King Philip II of Macedon” (the father of Alexander the Great), from Greek Philippikós with the same meaning. Philippikós is usually used in the plural, Philippikói, with the plural noun lógoi “speeches” understood. The original Philippikói lógoi were three speeches delivered by the Athenian statesman Demosthenes against King Philip of Macedon between 351 and 341 b.c. The second set of philippics were the 14 orations that the Roman statesman and man of letters Marcus Tullius Cicero delivered against Mark Antony between 44 and 43 b.c. Cicero himself called these speeches (ōrātiōnēs) Philippicae “Philippic (orations).” The speeches not unnaturally enraged Mark Antony, who ensured that Cicero’s name stood at the head of the list of proscriptions. The adjective sense of philippic entered English in the mid-16th century.
Ms. Goldstein’s book is meticulously fair and disarmingly balanced, serving up historical commentary instead of a searing philippic.
… his philippic against King Leopold for the atrocities he sanctioned called the attention of the whole world to conditions that constituted a disgrace to modern civilization.
the state of being no longer used or practiced.
Desuetude comes from French désuétude, a borrowing of Latin dēsuētūdo “disuse,” a derivative of the verb dēsuēscere “to lay aside a habit or custom” and the abstract noun suffix –tūdō. Dēsuēscere is a compound verb composed of the preposition and prefix dē, dē-, here indicating negation, and the verb suēscere “to become accustomed to, to make accustomed.” In suēscere the suffix –ēscere indicates an inchoative or inceptive meaning (“to begin to…”). Desuetude entered English in the 15th century.
A very few people, not appearing to be up to much, sat far apart at desks in a dimly lighted panorama of desuetude.
The practice of “leaving a calling card” may have fallen into desuetude among human beings, but as a description of pet behavior the phrase continues to have legs.
U.S. Politics. a local meeting of party members to select candidates, elect convention delegates, etc.
“You pays your money, and you takes your choice” when it comes to the origin of caucus. The true answer is that the origin of caucus is unknown, which naturally leads to many folk etymologies. The word first appears in the Boston Gazette (1760) and is spelled Corcas. The modern spelling caucus appears in 1788, and the citation reads “More than fifty years ago [therefore about 1735], Mr. Samuel Adams’s father, and twenty others…, used to meet, make a caucus.” A possible source of caucus is the Late Latin noun caucus “drinking cup,” from Greek kaûkos with the same meaning. The trouble with Latin caucus is that there is no evidence for this development of meaning, and that Latin caucus occurs only once, in a work by St. Jerome. A second etymology, closer to home, so to speak, claims that caucus is an Algonquian word, from Virginia Algonquian Cawcawwassough, specifically, and means “elders of the Chickahominy people.” Cawcawwassough dates from 1608, but again there is no “chain of evidence” connecting Cawcawwassough to political clubs in Boston.
The Iowa caucuses are never simple. Voters spend hours in high school gymnasiums or public libraries, starting their night by declaring support for their preferred presidential candidate.
The caucuses were supposed to be less important this time. But they still might pick the winner.
the prize for victory.
The senses of the very rare noun gree “superiority, mastery; prize for victory” are either obsolete or Scottish. The Middle English spellings include gre and gree; in Middle English the word means “a step, flight of steps; victory in combat; a prize for such a victory; rank, position, dignity,” from Old French gré, grei “a step, degree.” The Old French forms are regular phonetic developments of Latin gradus “a step (literal and metaphorical), pace, stair, rung (of a ladder), tier (of seats), (musical) interval.” Gradus, a derivative of the verb gradī “to walk, step, proceed,” is the ultimate source of English grade, gradual, graduate, and degree. Gree entered English in the early 14th century.
And here to win gree happily for ever …
A false usurper wan the gree, / Who now commands the towers and lands …
of or relating to pottery.
Some of the meanings of the rare adjective fictile are “capable of being molded; made of earth or clay by a potter; pertaining to pottery.” Fictile comes straight from Latin fictilis “made of or pertaining to earthenware, pottery, terra cotta,” a derivative of fictus, the past participle of the verb fingere “to shape (from clay, wax, molten metal, etc.), create, produce, transform.” Also from fic-, a variant of the Latin root fig-, Latin has fictiō (stem fictiōn-) “act of shaping or molding; pretense, personification; supposition, legal fiction” (English fiction). From fig– Latin has the nouns figūra “form, shape, composition, makeup” (English figure) and figmentum “something formed or devised; a fiction or invention” (English figment). Fictile entered English in the 17th century.
… in the fictile arts we can not approach the French and Italian potters of the sixteenth …
The chief function of clay in the fictile arts is its partial fusion upon firing, and upon this and the skill of the artisan who fires the kiln depends the product, which is wonderfully varied by the mixtures of fluxes and tempering material.