Definition of zeitgeist
: the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era
zeitgeist was our Word of the Day on 12/31/2016. Hear the podcast!
Examples of zeitgeist in a sentence
His songs perfectly captured the zeitgeist of 1960s America.
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.
Origin and Etymology of zeitgeist
German, from Zeit + Geist spirit
First Known Use: 1835
ZEITGEIST Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of zeitgeist for English Language Learners
: the general beliefs, ideas, and spirit of a time and place
Seen and Heard
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