[er-zahts, -sahts, er-zahts, -sahts]


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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ersatz

Contemporary Examples of ersatz

Historical Examples of ersatz

  • This ersatz ranch-house was owned by two completely unlovelies.


    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.

British Dictionary definitions for ersatz



made in imitation of some natural or genuine product; artificial


an ersatz substance or article

Word Origin for ersatz

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

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