Cultural Watch

Word of the Day – zeitgeber |

Zeitgeber / tsahyt-gey-ber / noun


an environmental cue, as the length of daylight or the degree of temperature, that helps to regulate the cycles of an organism’s biological clock.


Natural light is the best-known, though not the only, zeitgeber that syncs human sleep patterns up with the Earth’s 24-hour day. —JULIE BECK, “THE CAVES OF FORGOTTEN TIME,” THE ATLANTIC, NOVEMBER 9, 2015


Zeitgeber “an environmental cue, such as the length of daylight, that helps regulate the biological clock of an organism,” comes from German Zeitgeber, literally “time giver,” a compound of Zeit “time” (cognate with English tide) and Geber, an agent noun from the verb geben “to give” (cognate with English give). The German term is formed on the analogy of Taktgeber “electronic synchronization device, timer, metronome.” Takt and Zeit are near synonyms except that Takt is more narrowly applied to music and rhythm. Zeitgeber entered English in the late 1950s.

via Word of the Day – zeitgeber |