zeitgeist

noun, often capitalized
zeit·​geist | \ ˈtsīt-ˌgīst, ˈzīt- \

Definition of zeitgeist

: the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era

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Did You Know?

Scholars have long maintained that each era has a unique spirit, a nature or climate that sets it apart from all other epochs. In German, such a spirit is known as "Zeitgeist," from the German words Zeit, meaning "time," and Geist, meaning "spirit" or "ghost." Some writers and artists assert that the true zeitgeist of an era cannot be known until it is over, and several have declared that only artists or philosophers can adequately explain it. We don’t know if that’s true, but we do know that "zeitgeist" has been a useful addition to the English language since at least 1835.

Examples of zeitgeist in a Sentence

His songs perfectly captured the zeitgeist of 1960s America.

Recent Examples on the Web

Together the digitally savvy pair pulls inspiration from social media, obscure comic books, even an inkling that something is about to pop in the zeitgeist. Taylor Rainbolt, Glamour, "Alana Mayo, Michael B. Jordan's Secret Weapon, Is Poised to Take Over Hollywood," 12 Oct. 2018 Every now and then, though, a report would make its way into the zeitgeist that was just...bizarre. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "11 Meghan Markle Headlines From This Year That Are So Ridiculous, You Have to Laugh," 25 Dec. 2018 Royal Caribbean tapped into the travel beauty zeitgeist and announced that its refurbished Navigator of the Seas, returning in February following a $115 million revamp, will feature To Dry For, the first such salon at sea. Corina Quinn, Condé Nast Traveler, "Five New Cruise Experiences We Can’t Wait For in 2019," 12 Dec. 2018 A few weeks ago, Mom asked me to catch her up on the zeitgeist. Dg Fulford, Woman's Day, "The News," 30 Apr. 2010 Yet a few designers sent out a more nuanced message, seizing the zeitgeist with integrity and intelligence, addressing the discourse on womanhood and femininity in a powerful, profound way. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "Our Very Favorite Moments From the Spring 2019 Collections," 10 Oct. 2018 The first-person shooter returned to gaming's zeitgeist this week thanks to a 90-percent discount at gaming site Fanatical, which brings its asking price down to $3. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "A years-old, one-letter typo led to Aliens: Colonial Marines’ weird AI," 14 July 2018 But Quayle’s quote turned what was then one of TV’s biggest hits into a new front in the culture war, and the fact that Murphy Brown was so central to the zeitgeist and fond of mocking Quayle only added fuel to the fire. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The rise, fall, and unlikely return of Murphy Brown, explained," 27 Sep. 2018 That last one is a zeitgeist moment Rafael Museri and his business partner Daniel Rudasevski are banking on. Annie Daly, Condé Nast Traveler, "Selina, the Hotel for Digital Nomads, Is Coming to the U.S.," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'zeitgeist.' 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 zeitgeist

1835, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for zeitgeist

German, from Zeit + Geist spirit

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Dictionary Entries near zeitgeist

zeiform

zein

zeitgeber

zeitgeist

Zelkoua

zelkova

Zeman

Statistics for zeitgeist

Last Updated

20 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for zeitgeist

The first known use of zeitgeist was in 1835

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More Definitions for zeitgeist

zeitgeist

noun

English Language Learners Definition of zeitgeist

: the general beliefs, ideas, and spirit of a time and place

More from Merriam-Webster on zeitgeist

Nglish: Translation of zeitgeist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of zeitgeist for Arabic Speakers

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