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The noun zeitgeist, meaning the spirit of the time, is a loanword from German (translating literally to time ghost).1 It’s a useful word because there is no one-word English equivalent.

Zeitgeist has been in widespread use for a long time (at least a century and a half),2 so it no longer needs to be capitalized or italicized.


His desire to get under the skin of the establishment caught the zeitgeist, and to the young of the time he proved a striking standard-bearer for disaffection and change. [The Music Magazine]

The year 1964 was one of those moments when the reigning “ism” — abstract expressionism — had sputtered out, and the zeitgeist screamed for change. [Star Tribune]


1. http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/zeitgeist ^
2. Google Ngram for “zeitgeist,” 1800-2000 ^

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