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

At the airport, some demonstrators in the ersatz welcoming committee warned visitors about the profusion of tear gas that police have fired across the city, including in tourist hotspots and dense residential neighborhoods. Time Staff, Time, "Hong Kong Protesters Converge on the International Airport for a Three-Day Sit-In," 9 Aug. 2019 This means rustling up ersatz ingredients at a moment’s notice. Anastasia Miari, 1843, "Magic grannies are stopping Cuba going hungry," 7 Aug. 2019 The secret ingredient is hard to detect The big reveal: Chefs at some eateries are blending calabacitas, a Mexican squash, with avocados to make a version of guacamole—or even using the squash alone to create a totally ersatz dish. Lila Maclellan, Quartzy, "Everything we know about the “fake guacamole” scare," 3 Aug. 2019 Others accuse the Neighbors app, and similar apps like Citizen, of creating an ersatz surveillance state and stoking fears at a time when crime rates are at historic lows. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "Cops Are Offering Ring Doorbell Cameras in Exchange for Info," 2 Aug. 2019 Houston's ace has been among the players most critical of some teams' practice of using relief pitchers as ersatz starters for an inning or two. Creg Stephenson |, al, "What time, TV channel is 2019 MLB All-Star Game? (7/9/19) lineups, live stream," 9 July 2019 The ersatz drama’s young hero-broker — Ryan Serhant of Nest Seekers International — battles Manhattan’s worst year in real estate since the 2008 financial crisis. R. Daniel Foster, Los Angeles Times, "Bravo’s ‘Million Dollar Listing New York’ finds broker Ryan Serhant on the move," 26 July 2019 One serendipitous result of the construction delays was the ersatz beach. Jeff Giles, New York Times, "It’s a Beach if We Say So: Lost Scenes From Downtown’s Hipster Landfill," 17 June 2019 This columned, ersatz-antebellum megamansion, in operation just ten days a year, has got to be the fanciest media center in sports. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, "Inside the Cultish Dreamworld of Augusta National," 14 June 2019

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

17 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for ersatz

The first known use of ersatz was in 1871

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English Language Learners Definition of ersatz

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on ersatz

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ersatz

Spanish Central: Translation of ersatz

Nglish: Translation of ersatz for Spanish Speakers

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a period when something is suspended

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