Origin of zeitgeist
Words nearby zeitgeist
MORE ABOUT ZEITGEIST
What does zeitgeist mean?
The zeitgeist is the collective attitude or outlook of people or a culture at a specific point in time.
Zeitgeist can be used in discussion of the current moment, a narrow period of time in the past, or a broader period or era. Literature and other media are sometimes said to express the Zeitgeist of the time they were created in or of a past period of time. The word is capitalized in its original language, German, and is sometimes capitalized in English (Zeitgeist).
Example: The zeitgeist at the time was a feeling that anything was possible.
Where does zeitgeist come from?
Zeitgeist is borrowed from German and literally translates to “time spirit” or “spirit of the times.” It comes from the German Zeit, meaning “time,” and Geist, meaning “spirit” or “ghost” (as seen in poltergeist, which means “a noisy ghost”). The term was originally used by German philosophers in the 1800s, including Georg Hegel and Johann Goethe. One of its first known uses in English came in an 1848 book by British literary critic Matthew Arnold, who often discussed Goethe in his work.
Zeitgeist may still be used in philosophical discussions, but it is perhaps more popularly used in observations about what people are or were feeling during a particular moment of time. It is especially used in discussions of public attitudes and cultural shifts during past periods, which are easier to identify and analyze with hindsight. Sometimes it is applied to an entire era, such as the Victorian era, whose zeitgeist is often described as being focused on industrial progress. It is often applied to decades. For example, the zeitgeist of 1980s America is often said to have been a preoccupation with wealth and consumption. Sometimes, zeitgeist is used in discussion of how it changed, as in The free loving zeitgeist of the early ’60s was soon replaced with anxieties driven by assassination and war.
Zeitgeist is often used to discuss particular works of art that are considered to have skillfully represented the prevailing outlook of a certain time, such as books, music, and movies, as in The film perfectly captures the zeitgeist during the tech boom of the early 2000s.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms of zeitgeist?
- zeitgeisty (slang, adjective)
What are some synonyms for zeitgeist?
What are some words that share a root or word element with zeitgeist?
What are some words that often get used in discussing zeitgeist?
How is zeitgeist used in real life?
Zeitgeist is often used in observations about cultural trends and in statements about media that are said to have captured the overall feeling of an era.
It's always people with the least thought out, most generic designs that think people are ripping them off.
Just cause you dragged the lowest common denominator out of the zeitgeist doesn't mean you own it lol.
— Marissa Louise (@marissadraws) February 21, 2020
In my lifetime: Batman ‘89. Jurassic Park. Titanic.
Not just for the films themselves but the way they so totally defined the zeitgeist. They had to be released at exactly the right moment to hit the way they did. https://t.co/YiAIQzewBb
— Zaki Hasan (@zakiscorner) February 23, 2020
The pandemic zeitgeist gives me an opportunity to practice my favorite contact avoidance technique ever, the Ebola Elbow handshake
— Xeni (@xeni) February 26, 2020
Try using zeitgeist!
Is zeitgeist used correctly in the following sentence?
The musical zeitgeist of the 1980s was dominated by flashy performances and flamboyant fashions.
How to use zeitgeist in a sentence
Podcasts are a growing market, and Spotify is betting that podcasters capturing the zeitgeist will help grow its subscriber base.Call Her Daddy’s Alexandra Cooper Made Her Name Talking About Sex. With Her Massive Spotify Deal, She’s Pushing Beyond That|Eliana Dockterman|July 21, 2021|Time
I think that’s what at least the broader industry marketing zeitgeist had been.Better cybersecurity means finding the “unknown unknowns”|MIT Technology Review Insights|May 26, 2021|MIT Technology Review
Given the zeitgeist, if any of these current bills fail, there are surely more to come.
Germany’s Angela Merkel is on her way out the door, and it’s anyone’s guess what comes next in the zeitgeist there.
If acting is 90 percent listening, here were two consummate pros, exquisitely attuned to what surrounded them, from their co-stars to their zeitgeist.Jessica Walter and George Segal personified a time when movies grew up|Ann Hornaday|March 26, 2021|Washington Post
Doug [Ellin] is a genius at capturing the zeitgeist, and I think Entourage was very prophetic.Adrian Grenier Talks the Economy, the ‘Entourage’ Movie, and the HBO Series’ Alleged ‘Misogyny’|Marlow Stern|October 28, 2014|DAILY BEAST
It was only a matter of time before meatier critical journalism began to pick up on the butthole zeitgeist.
Zeitgeist novels tend to fall in one of three categories, none of which have anything to do with the quality of the work itself.Zen, Motorcycles, And The Cult of Tech: How Robert Pirsig’s Classic Anticipated the Future|Nathaniel Rich|August 31, 2014|DAILY BEAST
A must read for anyone who wishes to understand the zeitgeist of those early days.
We now have to make it more salacious by adding in some sort of zeitgeist-y pop culture reference to social media and blogging.
The authors and thinkers themselves have been the first to feel the Zeitgeist.The Arena|Various
Have the Zeitgeist and the Weltschmerz and the other things compared to which ‘le spleen’ was gay, done so much for us?The Rhythm of Life|Alice Meynell
It is easy to overestimate the influence of any single man, and, contrariwise, to underestimate the power of the Zeitgeist.A History of Science, Volume 1(of 5)|Henry Smith Williams
And this active province of Béarn kept pace; it opened quickly to the new influences, was alive to the changing zeitgeist.A Midsummer Drive Through The Pyrenees|Edwin Asa Dix
It is the Zeitgeist; when we have conquered, with their help, we shall teach them the real lesson of Christianity!Ten Years Near the German Frontier|Maurice Francis Egan
British Dictionary definitions for zeitgeist
Word Origin for zeitgeist
Cultural definitions for zeitgeist
The general moral, intellectual, and cultural climate of an era; Zeitgeist is German for “time-spirit.” For example, the Zeitgeist of England in the Victorian period included a belief in industrial progress, and the Zeitgeist of the 1980s in the United States was a belief in the power of money and the many ways in which to spend it.