noun, often capitalized
zeit·​geist | \ ˈtsīt-ˌgīst How to pronounce zeitgeist (audio) , ˈzīt- How to pronounce zeitgeist (audio) \

Definition of zeitgeist

: 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 Inspired by newspaper comics from the early 1900s, Superplastic debuted its first characters in 2020 even before NFTs became part of the mid-pandemic zeitgeist. Marty Swant, Forbes, 30 Apr. 2022 Tiger King literally needs no introduction, and with the recent release of Season 2, Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin's drama is occupying the zeitgeist once again. Amy Mackelden, ELLE, 30 Apr. 2022 Their love has become the stuff of zeitgeist-capturing, era-defining, rock-and-roll legend. Emily Maddick, Glamour, 28 Apr. 2022 With a little imagination, the zeitgeist is not entirely out of reach. Los Angeles Times, 14 Apr. 2022 The book, which is considered a classic in Tagalog literature, exquisitely captures the zeitgeist of the time: the dream that societies would better provide for their people—one still not quite achieved, both in the Philippines and elsewhere. Farah Abdessamad, The Atlantic, 12 Apr. 2022 And while a new generation is charting new paths, Net says that the artists from past decades also capture a sense of freedom and defiance that fits into today’s zeitgeist. Julyssa Lopez, Rolling Stone, 31 Mar. 2022 But a large majority of these shows slowed in the mid-2000s and early 2010s — that is, until the airing of Black-ish in 2014, which recreated a zeitgeist that once permeated airwaves. Earl Hopkins, The Week, 31 Mar. 2022 And many of those DLSS-compatible games have long since passed in and out of the gamer zeitgeist. Chris Stobing, PCMAG, 30 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of zeitgeist was in 1835

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Last Updated

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Zeitgeist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zeitgeist. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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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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