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

Other Words from ersatz

ersatz noun

Did you know?

Ersatz can be traced back in English to the 1870s, 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 modify terms like coffee (made from acorns) and flour (made 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.

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 The city is celebrated as gaudy, flashy, ersatz, fake, a monument to excess. Michael Goldstein, Forbes, 23 Apr. 2022 Always tentative about her abilities, Radziwill fell completely under Capote’s ersatz Svengali spell. Mark Peikert, Town & Country, 28 Jan. 2022 But Batiste’s sense of himself is trapped in ethnic expression that’s become ersatz. Armond White, National Review, 6 Apr. 2022 But according to photos included in the lawsuit, customers are paying for puny, ersatz versions of what’s shown in ads. Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2022 The ersatz third place is a consequence of a culture obsessed with productivity and status, whose subjects might have decent incomes but little recreational time. Allie Conti, The Atlantic, 4 Apr. 2022 But this ersatz character study starts sounding like an earnest grant proposal when contemporary political issues are raised. Charles Mcnultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 31 Mar. 2022 Putin’s disinformation campaign echoes the Nazis’ fabrication of an ersatz Polish attack on a German border radio station to justify their September 1, 1939, invasion. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 18 Feb. 2022 It’s the definition of superficial — a tale of fraud, embodied by unconvincing people in an ersatz framework. Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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ersatz reserve

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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ersatz.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ersatz

Nglish: Translation of ersatz for Spanish Speakers


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