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[er-zahts, -sahts, er-zahts, -sahts] /ˈɛr zɑts, -sɑts, ɛrˈzɑts, -ˈsɑts/
serving as a substitute; synthetic; artificial:
an ersatz coffee made from grain.
an artificial substance or article used to replace something natural or genuine; a substitute.
Origin of ersatz
1870-75; < German Ersatz a substitute (derivative of ersetzen to replace) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ersatz
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This ersatz ranch-house was owned by two completely unlovelies.

    Vigorish Gordon Randall Garrett
  • He slid into his chair and reached automatically for the ersatz grapefruit.

    Tony and the Beetles Philip K. Dick
  • We had long been ridiculing the Germans for their ersatz ingenuity.

    Paris Vistas Helen Davenport Gibbons
  • It is the same difference as that between the ersatz and the authentic.

    An Autobiography Igor Stravinsky
  • The brass fittings were still in place, and there were no signs of ersatz towels, sheets, or even lace curtains.

    To Kiel in the 'Hercules' Lewis R. Freeman
British Dictionary definitions for ersatz


/ˈɛəzæts; ˈɜː-/
made in imitation of some natural or genuine product; artificial
an ersatz substance or article
Word Origin
C20: German, from ersetzen to substitute
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ersatz

1875, from German Ersatz "units of the army reserve," literally "compensation, replacement, substitute," from ersetzen "to replace," from Old High German irsezzen, from ir-, unaccented variant of ur- + setzen "to set" (see set (v.)). As a noun, from 1892.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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