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 Horror movies tend to reflect the zeitgeist of the moment: the slang, the soundtrack, various evanescent trends in hair and footwear. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, 12 Aug. 2022 The zeitgeist of the Romantic age is charmingly captured by an American naïf visiting the era’s music hub—Germany—to study with her idols. Stuart Isacoff, WSJ, 17 June 2022 The iconic photo of that moment really captures the zeitgeist of 1985. Mike Dojc, Forbes, 8 June 2022 If—as the director Ingmar Bergman once claimed—the most important image in the history of cinema is that of the human face, then the visage of Jane Birkin inspired a new zeitgeist of onscreen beauty. Erik Morse, Vogue, 17 Mar. 2022 DC Films may never have topped Marvel in the zeitgeist, but there was and is value to being Homicide: Life of the Street to Marvel’s Law and Order. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 12 Aug. 2022 Is something shifting in the zeitgeist that lives people of color women, anybody from not from central casting, more likely to succeed now? Fortune Editors, Fortune, 11 Aug. 2022 Over the next three days, Comic-Con will set the stage for the Marvel and DC’s cinematic universes, alongside and some of the other most anticipated film and TV franchises in the zeitgeist. Ethan Millman, Rolling Stone, 22 July 2022 This 205-year-old book is suddenly in the zeitgeist. Martine Powers, Washington Post, 14 July 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

19 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Zeitgeist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zeitgeist. Accessed 24 Sep. 2022.

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