The main definitions of the adjective ersatz are (1) serving as a substitute, and (2) artificial. It’s a German loanword of relatively recent origin (late 19th century), but it’s well established in English and hence doesn’t need to be italicized in normal use.
Above all, it is Oprah’s incontinent sentimentality that I find so objectionable, the elevation of ersatz emotion over any critical thought. [Telegraph]
Without self-love all we can offer is an ersatz love. And if we offer an ersatz love then we will have to have an ersatz democracy. [Man of the New Millennium, Gregory Dark]
Like Thor’s hammer, this ersatz epic bludgeons its victims into submission. [Wall Street Journal]
The hands also serve as an ersatz frame for the pictorial elements being held, which optimally draws the viewer into seeing the images as more than mere pictures but as artifacts as well [The Anatomy of Design, Steven Heller and Mirko Ilić]
Rather than relearning its own cuisine, Britain turned to an ersatz version of Italy’s, one that was geographically and culturally inappropriate. [Sydney Morning Herald]