Simple Definition of ersatz
: copied from something else and usually not as good as the original
Full Definition of ersatz
: being a usually artificial and inferior substitute or imitation <ersatz turf> <ersatz intellectuals>
Examples of ersatz in a sentence
an apartment complex designed as an ersatz Mediterranean villa
<like everything else the restaurant served, the whipped cream on the dessert was ersatz>
Did You Know?
Ersatz can be traced back in English to 1875, but it really came into prominence during World War I. Borrowed from German, where Ersatz is a noun meaning "substitute," the word was frequently applied as an adjective in English to items like coffee (from acorns) and flour (from potatoes) - ersatz products resulting from the privations of war. By the time World War II came around, bringing with it a resurgence of the word along with more substitute products, ersatz was wholly entrenched in the language. Today, ersatz can be applied to almost anything that seems like an artificial imitation: "Even when those marketplaces did succeed, the fun always felt a little ersatz." (Malcolm Jones Jr., Newsweek, April 22, 1996)
Origin and Etymology of ersatz
German ersatz-, from Ersatz, noun, substitute
First Known Use: 1875
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up ersatz? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).