er·​satz | \ˈer-ˌsäts, -ˌzäts;er-ˈzäts, -ˈsäts;ˈər-ˌsats \

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

Liberland has a constitution (taxes are optional), an ersatz embassy and an online citizenship application form. The Economist, "Not all borders make sense. But changing them is dangerous," 12 July 2018 Coogler gives us only the superficial satisfactions of the ersatz, a kitschy substitute for meaningful expression of black social and spiritual advancement. Armond White, National Review, "Black Panther’s Circle of Hype," 16 Feb. 2018 Today, that’s where Nashville’s most convincing pedestrian experience can be found, amid the ersatz woods and indoor gardens of the Gaylords Opryland Resort. Justin Davidson, Daily Intelligencer, "Downtown Nashville Is Supposed to Be the Model of the Walkable 21st-Century City. I’m Not So Sure.," 8 June 2018 Sociologists have described sports fandom as a kind of ersatz patriotism, with tribal conflict taking the place of war. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Is Going to Lose His War on Football," 5 June 2018 Asians smile out of ersatz family photos in the model homes. Vivian Yee, New York Times, "Democrats Hope Asian-American Influx Will Help Turn Orange County Blue," 3 June 2018 To Baugh, his ersatz mentor has become the embodiment of all that’s wrong with Washington — a perpetual incumbent with little to show for it. Washington Post, "Republicans turn on each other in California US House fight," 29 May 2018 What Treichl had created was a paean to a kind of British noble life that barely exists anymore, the reincarnation of an ersatz Downton Abbey, itself a fiction, which struck some, including Makepeace, as a bit absurd. David Usborne, Town & Country, "The Mysterious Case of the Parnham House Fire," 29 May 2018 Though androids have been allowed to integrate into seemingly every facet of Detroit’s society, everyone is somehow also skeptical and distrustful of the ersatz humans that now dominate their ultra-modern lives. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Detroit: Become Human review: Robotic in all of the wrong ways," 24 May 2018

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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Time Traveler for ersatz

The first known use of ersatz was in 1871

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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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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

Comments on ersatz

What made you want to look up ersatz? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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