Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

ersatz

play
adjective er·satz \ˈer-ˌsäts, -ˌzäts, er-ˈ; ˈər-ˌsats\

Simple Definition of ersatz

  • : copied from something else and usually not as good as the original

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of ersatz

  1. :  being a usually artificial and inferior substitute or imitation <ersatz turf> <ersatz intellectuals>

ersatz

noun

Examples of ersatz in a sentence

  1. an apartment complex designed as an ersatz Mediterranean villa

  2. <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).

WORD OF THE DAY

a representation of something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

confounded-person

Which is a synonym of indolent?

philistine frenetic melancholy lazy
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ