er·​satz | \ ˈer-ˌsäts How to pronounce ersatz (audio) , -ˌzäts; er-ˈzäts, -ˈsäts; ˈər-ˌsats How to pronounce ersatz (audio) \

Definition of ersatz

: being a usually artificial and inferior substitute or imitation ersatz turf ersatz intellectuals

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Other Words from ersatz

ersatz noun

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)

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
Recent Examples on the Web Park’s response has been to make ersatz monuments like the ones on display at Plain Sight, a pop-up storefront gallery whose small shows are viewable only from the street. Washington Post, "In the galleries: Simulated stone and neon artworks reflect the transience of life," 30 Apr. 2021 The 28-year-old artist was still a decade away from his Pop breakthrough: depicting Disney cartoons with ersatz benday dots. Jonathon Keats, Forbes, "This Groundbreaking Exhibit Of Roy Lichtenstein’s Early Paintings Shows The Melodrama That Made His Art Pop," 15 Apr. 2021 Making an ersatz almost-dinosaur invalidates a lot of the arguments in favor of reviving dinosaurs. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "We Can Build a Real Jurassic Park, Says Neuralink Cofounder. Let’s Not.," 8 Apr. 2021 Then the structure was dismantled and rebuilt as an ersatz version of itself, at a quarter the size. Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker, "Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang," 5 Apr. 2021 But the practice, an ersatz way of dealing with systemic issues, continued. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, "The Sad Implosion of Google’s Ethical AI," 8 Mar. 2021 In the last presidential election in 2018, Ksenia Sobchak, a socialite who is reputed to be a goddaughter of Mr. Putin, filled the ersatz opposition role while Mr. Navalny was banned from running. New York Times, "Looking for Something New in Russia’s ‘New People’ Party," 23 Feb. 2021 Atlast’s consumer brand, MyEats, is launching the bacon in select stores this fall, but the company says to expect wider availability—and a growing variety of ersatz meat cuts and even seafood—in the future. Sara Chodosh And Andrew Rosenblum, Popular Science, "The wildest engineering innovations of 2020," 3 Dec. 2020 But bronze watches are ones that will gracefully age and take on the romanticism associated with vintage watches, instead of using ersatz aging techniques, also known as fauxtina. Daniel Bentley, Fortune, "3 bronze watches that deserve first place in your collection," 7 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ersatz.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ersatz

1871, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ersatz

German ersatz-, from Ersatz, noun, substitute

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Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ersatz.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for ersatz



English Language Learners Definition of ersatz

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

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ersatz

Nglish: Translation of ersatz for Spanish Speakers

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