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Breeze, and the less exciting echelon problem of actual vs. current. 6th of May, 2021 POST·MERIDIEM 11:26

A friend of mine put up débris as the word of the day in the IRC channel we both join now and then, and that prompted me to look up its etymology, and more particularly whether it is related to English breeze.

Not at all, as it turns out, and the OED2 entry is further of interest in that has an echelon problem in rendering the continental (“standard average European”) actuelle / aktuell / actual etc. as “actual” (which is not the current English meaning) rather than “current” (which is).

Anyway, the full entry for breeze from the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary below, for your edification.

breeze (briːz), n.² Forms: 6-7 brize, brieze , 7 brise, brese , breze, breaze , 7–8 breez, breese, 7­ breeze.
[In 16th c. brize, brieze, app. ad. OSp. (and Pg.) briza (mod.Sp. brisa) ‘north-east wind’ (though, according to Cotgrave, brize also occurs in Fr. (in Rabelais a 1550) = bize, bise ‘north wind’). Cf. also It. brezza ‘cold wind bringing mist or frost’ (Florio), Milanese brisa ‘cool wind from the north’ (Diez). Cotgrave’s brize = bize, supports the suggestion of Diez, that the word was orig. a variant of bisa, bise ‘north east wind’. On the Atlantic sea-board of the West Indies and Spanish Main, briza acquired the transferred senses of ‘north-east trade-wind’, and ‘fresh wind from the sea’, in which it was adopted by the English navigators of the 16th c. The further extension to ‘gentle fresh wind’ generally, is English; cf. the actual F. brise (in the Dict. of the Academy only since 1762).]

† 1. orig. A north or north-east wind; spec. applied within the tropics to the NE. trade-wind.
1565-8b9 Hawkins’ 2nd Voy. in Arb. Garner V. 121 The ordinary brise taking us, which is the north-east wind.
1595 Raleigh Disc. Guiana in Hakluyt Voy. (1600) III. 661 Against the brize and eastern wind.
1604 E. G[rimston] D’Acosta’s Hist. Indies iii. iv. 128 In that Zone..the Easterly windes (which they call Brises) do raine.
a1618 Raleigh Apol. 19 When the Easterly wind or Breeses are kept off by some High Mountaines.
1626 Bacon Sylva §398 The great Brizes which the motion of the Air in great Circles..produceth.
1685 Phil. Trans. XV. 1148 There are continual Eastern winds under the line which they call Brises.
1706 Phillips, Brizes, or rather Breezes, certain Winds, which the motion of the Air in great circles doth produce, refrigerating those that live under the line.
† 2. a. The cool wind that blows from the sea by day on tropical coasts. (This was on the Atlantic sea-board of tropical America an east or north-east wind, i.e. a breeze in sense 1; thence the name was extended to the ‘sea-breeze’ from any point of the compass.) Obs. exc. as in b.
1614 Raleigh Hist. World i. iii. §8 These hottest regions of the World..are..refreshed with a daily Gale of Easternly Wind (which the Spaniards call the Brize).
a1618 — Inv. Shipping 39 Southerly winds (the Brises of our Clymate) thrust them..into the Kings ports.
1627 Capt. Smith Seaman’s Gram. x. 46 A Breze is a wind blowes out of the Sea, and commonly in faire weather beginneth about nine in the morning.
1628 Digby Voy. Medit. 38 Intending to goe in in the morning with the brize.
1665 G. Havers P. della Valle’s Trav. E. Ind. 373 Sending a breeze, or breath, or small gale of wind daily.
1696 Phillips, Breez, a fresh gale of wind blowing off the Sea by day.
1839 Thirlwall Greece II. 307 A strong breeze which regularly blew up the channel at a certain time of the day.
b. Extended to include the counter-current of air that blows from the land by night; hence sea-breeze and land-breeze.
a1700 Dryden (J.) From land a gentle breeze arose by night.
1706 in Phillips.
1731 Bailey II, Breez, a fresh gale of wind blowing from the sea or land alternately for some certain hours of the day or night only sensible near the coast.
1782 Cowper Loss Royal George 9 A land-breeze shook the shrouds.
1832 Macaulay Armada 31 The freshening breeze of eve unfurled that banner’s massy fold.
3. a. A gentle or light wind: a breeze is generally understood to be a lighter current of air than a wind, as a wind is lighter than a gale. ‘Among seamen usually synonymous with wind in general’ (Smyth Sailor’s Word-bk.).
1626 Capt. Smith Accid. Yng. Seamen 17 A calme, a brese, a fresh gaile.
1762 Falconer Shipwr. i. 350 The lesser sails that court a gentle breeze.
1798 Coleridge Anc. Mar. ii. v, The breezes blew, the white foam flew.
1863 C. St. John Nat. Hist. Moray vii. 167 The breeze was gentle, but sufficient to take us merrily over.
b. Slang phrases: to hit, split or take the breeze: to depart; to get (have) or put the breeze up: to get or put the wind up (see wind n.1 10 b).
1910 ‘O. Henry’ Whirligigs xiv. 168 We got to be hittin’ the breeze.
1925 Fraser & Gibbons Soldier & Sailor Words 35 Breeze up, to have the: to be nervous, to have the ‘wind up’.
1931 Runyon Guys & Dolls (1932) 29 And with this she takes the breeze and I return to the other room.
1934 D. L. Sayers Nine Tailors iii. 279 He got a vertical breeze up.
1948 D. Ballantyne Cunninghams 89 She was only making out she hadn’t seen you so’s you wouldn’t get the breeze up.
1951 J. B. Priestley Fest. Farbridge 296 Put the breeze up me.
1959 I. & P. Opie Lore & Lang. Schoolch. x. 193 Expressions inviting a person’s departure, for instance:..sling your hook, split the breeze, [etc.].
4. fig.
a. A disturbance, quarrel, ‘row’. colloq.
1785 Grose Dict. Vulgar Tongue, To kick up a breeze, to breed a disturbance.
1803 Wellington Let. in Gurw. Disp. II. 367 The cession would create a breeze in the Konkan.
1811 — ibid. VII. 320 There was an old breeze between General — and —.
1837 Marryat Dog-Fiend i. xv. (L.), Jemmy, who expected a breeze, told his wife to behave herself quietly.
1865 Sat. Rev. 28 Jan. 119 ‘Don’t be angry, we’ve had our breeze. Shake hands.’
b. A breath of news, whisper, rumour. colloq.
1879 Stevenson Trav. Cevennes 215 There came a breeze that Spirit Séguier was near at hand.
1884 Denver (Colorado) Tribune Aug., Give us a breeze on the subject.
c. slang. Something easy to achieve, handle, etc. orig. U.S.
1928 G. H. Ruth Babe Ruth’s Own Bk. Baseball 299 Breeze, an easy chance.
1958 M. Dickens Man Overboard ix. 136 This will be a breeze for you.
1962 S. Carpenter in Into Orbit 75 All in all, the test was a breeze.
5. Comb., as breeze-borne, -like, -shaken, -swept, -wooing, adjs.
1805 J. Grahame Sabbath, On the distant cairn the watch~man’s ear Caught doubtfully at times the breeze-borne note.
1798 Coleridge Day-Dream ii. 5 A soft and breeze-like feeling.
1802 Wordsw. To H.C., The breeze-like motion.
1742 Young Nt. Th. ii. 300 Fate..hair-hung, breeze-shaken, o’er the gulph A moment trembles.
1872 Calverley Fly Leaves 4 Lingers on, till stars unnumber’d Tremble in the breeze-swept tarn.
1894 G. Bell Safar Nameh 48 On the threshold of his breeze-swept dwelling.
c1830 J. H. Green Morn. Invit. Child 22 The bee hums of heather and *breeze-wooing hill.

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