Definition of ersatz
: being a usually artificial and inferior substitute or imitation ersatz turf ersatz intellectuals
ersatz was our Word of the Day on 09/10/2015. Hear the podcast!
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: 1871
ERSATZ Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of ersatz for English Language Learners
: copied from something else and usually not as good as the original
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).