Definition of ersatz
- ersatz turf
- ersatz intellectuals
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an apartment complex designed as an ersatz Mediterranean villa
like everything else the restaurant served, the whipped cream on the dessert was ersatz
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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
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an inn where caravans rest at night
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