October 21, 2021

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Word of the Day: zeitgeist

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: the spirit of the time; the spirit characteristic of an age or generation (often capitalized: Zeitgeist)

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The word zeitgeist has appeared in 76 articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on Dec. 10 in “The Highly Unlikely Yet Totally Predictable Return of Uggs” by Max Berlinger:

Ms. O’Donnell, whose first memory of the brand is Pamela Anderson wearing Uggs with her red “Baywatch” swimsuit (Ms. Anderson, an animal-rights activist, has since renounced the boots), calls the classic boot a “cultural icon.” That sort of talk is often ballyhoo, but in this she’s not wrong. Uggs permeated the zeitgeist in a way few other footwear brands can claim.

Oprah Winfrey included them in her annual “Favorite Things” episodes, starting in 2003, creating a frenzy. Celebrities often wore them between takes while filming, which continued to raise their profile. And starlets helped forge an image of them as glamorous and casual in the early part of the century. Originally they were worn by surfers to keep their feet warm after a morning of wave-riding, giving them instant street (beach?) cred. Still, without constant tending and innovation, a brand built around one signature item can easily get stuck in a rut.

“Uggs will always and forever remind me of coming of age in the early aughts, seeing them on celebrities like Jessica Simpson on ‘Newlyweds’ or Paris Hilton shopping at Kitson,” said Tyler McCall, the editor in chief of the Fashionista website. “Lately, though, they also bring up images of a very specific, cool-art-scene kid.”

Can you correctly use the word zeitgeist in a sentence?

Based on the definition and example provided, write a sentence using today’s Word of the Day and share it as a comment on this article. It is most important that your sentence makes sense and demonstrates that you understand the word’s definition, but we also encourage you to be creative and have fun.

Then, read some of the other sentences students have submitted and use the “Recommend” button to vote for two original sentences that stand out to you.

If you want a better idea of how zeitgeist can be used in a sentence, read these usage examples on Vocabulary.com.

If you enjoy this daily challenge, try using multiple Words of the Day in a 50-word story that you submit to our Monthly Vocabulary Challenge.

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