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 Indeed, country signifiers are creeping into the popular zeitgeist. Dr. Marcus Collins, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 The Line was the last in the series, and, despite its moment in the cultural zeitgeist, the game was considered a financial failure for the company. Megan Farokhmanesh, WIRED, 12 Feb. 2024 Ryan’s hair — which dominated ‘90s beauty culture — made its way back into the zeitgeist when the star appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers at the end of October. Andrea Lavinthal, Peoplemag, 15 Jan. 2024 The online retailer is likely the other reason for the style’s full entry into the zeitgeist. Laia Garcia-Furtado, Vogue, 29 Nov. 2023 Since its 2019 inception, Jeeter has sought to capture the cultural zeitgeist by connecting with high-profile enthusiasts like Dwyane Wade and resonating deeply within the cannabis community in California, Arizona and Michigan. Joshua Adragna, Rolling Stone, 30 Jan. 2024 Barbie’s box office boom could help the sinking Oscars Barbie has had a quiet award season so far, which doesn’t reflect the film’s hold on the cultural zeitgeist, recalling the struggles of superhero films in general, and Marvel Studios films in particular, to be taken seriously by the Academy. Sasha Rogelberg, Fortune, 25 Jan. 2024 The song first re-entered the cultural zeitgeist when model Alex Consani posted a video of herself dancing to the track at brunch. Andrew Unterberger, Billboard, 18 Jan. 2024 Become a Subscriber Much of this fretting has revolved around the fact that many recent Oscar winners have not had mainstream appeal—that, no matter how well liked, Best Picture honorees such as Nomadland and CODA did not really reflect the zeitgeist. David Sims, The Atlantic, 18 Jan. 2024 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 24 Feb. 2024.

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