Definition of zeitgeist in English:



  • [in singular] The defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.

    ‘the story captured the zeitgeist of the late 1960s’
    • ‘Not since the peak seasons of Friends has a network TV show captured the zeitgeist so thoroughly.’
    • ‘How fleeting and fickle is the national zeitgeist eh?’
    • ‘I don't understand how people tune into the fashion zeitgeist, nor how they work out what's in and what's out.’
    • ‘When the young Beethoven arrived in Vienna in 1792, the musical zeitgeist was defined by Haydn and Mozart.’
    • ‘People are just jumping aboard the zeitgeist in insecure times.’
    • ‘One of his more uncanny talents has been the ability to capture the zeitgeist before we even knew it was upon us.’
    • ‘She's bang up to now without kowtowing to fashion, and catches the zeitgeist in a completely individual way.’
    • ‘I do believe that the zeitgeist of the Zeroes will be characterised by a popular desire for things to be real.’
    • ‘In many ways the Perrons' story captured the zeitgeist last year.’
    • ‘The stories capture the zeitgeist of the experience, if not the objective reality.’
    • ‘I chatted enthusiastically to various people for a couple of hours, brilliantly deconstructing the zeitgeist and things.’
    • ‘Back in the University Cafe, the Verrecchia family is not entirely convinced the fictional Oyster Cafe has captured the zeitgeist.’
    • ‘They'll never be a part of the zeitgeist… and thank God for that.’
    • ‘It was the time of experimentation and the zeitgeist favoured ordinary people as subject matter for documentaries.’
    • ‘It makes no claim to originality: the only zeitgeist it captures is a superficial snapshot of modern teenage life.’
    • ‘I once wrote that he is the Beatles of blogging, riding the zeitgeist, leading us all in the right direction.’
    • ‘I think the only answers lie with changing the zeitgeist and the mindsets of the people who run these organisations.’
    • ‘With Venus so tightly aligned with the Sun, these ideas are likely to be very much in the zeitgeist.’
    • ‘Five years ago it would have been surfing the zeitgeist; now it looks like a quaint period piece from last century.’
    • ‘Masters of the prevailing zeitgeist, U2 have reinvented themselves more times than Bowie and Madonna put together.’


Mid 19th century: from German Zeitgeist, from Zeit time + Geist spirit.