September 12, 2013
ersatz (adjective)
\AIR-sahts\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: being a usually artificial and inferior substitute or imitation
How do you use it?
The thief was disappointed to find that cell phone he stole from the store window was an ersatz one marked "FOR DISPLAY ONLY: NONFUNCTIONING."
Are you a word wiz?

What do you think was happening around the time that the word "ersatz" first found its way into English?

You're not faking your word power if you chose C! "Ersatz" was first being used in English to describe an artificial and inferior substitute in the second half of the nineteenth century, around the time that medicine shows were traveling around the U.S. hawking worthless potions as actual cures. "Ersatz" was borrowed from the German noun "Ersatz," which means "substitute." The English word "ersatz" can be used to refer to a thing that is a poor imitation or substitute, such as "ersatz jewelry." Or it can refer to a person who is a poor imitation of something, such as an "ersatz intellectual."
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