Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 09:08:08 -0500 From: Gregory {Greg} Downing 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]