Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 09:08:08 -0500

From: Gregory {Greg} Downing downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IS2.NYU.EDU

Subject: Re: "zephyr" (= nothing)

At 08:27 AM 1/28/98 -0500, you (baragonasa[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] wrote:

I have no idea how the semantic development "zephyr" to "nothing"

occurred. Can anyone help?

This is just a guess, but it may be confusion with "cipher" (Brit.

spelling cypher), which of course means zero.

"Cipher" is an interesting suggestion. Another pure guess might be that

it's an extension of the use of "wind" to mean airy nothingness, as in

"Oaths are but words, and words but wind."

Check zephyr in OED2 -- I did last night, and there are lots of derivative

and applied senses having to do with lightness or nothingness -- a kind of

light fabric, etc.

Maybe (cipher) + (the idea that some nothing-words begin with z [zero, zip,

the obscurely-derived but probably zero-related zilch]) + (zephyr's

connotations of lightness/nothingness) = zepyhr-as-zero????

Is it clear that "zephyr" as it was originally quoted on this thread is an

established usage, or a one-time thing (thus, perhaps, a de facto solecism)?

Gregory {Greg} Downing, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]