zeit·​geist ˈtsīt-ˌgīst How to pronounce zeitgeist (audio) ˈzīt- How to pronounce zeitgeist (audio)
often capitalized
: the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era

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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."

Examples of zeitgeist in a Sentence

His songs perfectly captured the zeitgeist of 1960s America.
Recent Examples on the Web Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Stevie Wonder, the list keeps going — not in your zeitgeist? David Marchese, New York Times, 15 Sep. 2023 Legally, passing a fishing ban in America’s anti-regulatory zeitgeist seems unlikely. Laura Trethewey, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Sep. 2023 The music festival’s standout looks were a vibrant blend of styles, reflecting the ever-evolving zeitgeist of influences within the Black and African diaspora. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 28 Aug. 2023 Pumpkin spice, or PSL, launched into the American zeitgeist in 2003. Paige Hagy, Fortune, 23 Aug. 2023 But while Twitter captured the cultural and political zeitgeist, its business — with 237.8 million daily users and $5 billion in annual revenue — remained a fraction of Zuckerberg’s empire, and never posed a serious threat. Will Oremus, Washington Post, 29 July 2023 Known as much for its $18 Boy Brow pomade (for your eyebrows) as its initial direct-to-consumer approach and sophisticated and canny approach to advertiser and influencer marketing, Glossier burned through the zeitgeist starting in 2014 with a mere four products. Jason Sheeler, Peoplemag, 8 Sep. 2023 Friendship has risen from the secret diary entries of teenage girls and entered the public zeitgeist. Diana Ruzova, Los Angeles Times, 6 Sep. 2023 Nothing becomes a phenomenon without tapping into a latent desire in the zeitgeist. Jeff Weiss, Spin, 21 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'zeitgeist.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


German, from Zeit + Geist spirit

First Known Use

1835, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of zeitgeist was in 1835


Dictionary Entries Near zeitgeist

Cite this Entry

“Zeitgeist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zeitgeist. Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

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