Definition of ersatz
- ersatz turf
- ersatz intellectuals
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
an apartment complex designed as an ersatz Mediterranean villa
like everything else the restaurant served, the whipped cream on the dessert was ersatz
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.
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)
First Known Use: 1871See Words from the same year
: copied from something else and usually not as good as the original
What made you want to look up ersatz? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!
Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?TAKE THE QUIZ
Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.TAKE THE QUIZ