Zeitgeist is an interesting word which originally came from Germany in 1848.
It’s one of those words that once you’ve learnt it, it gets stuck in your head and you just can’t wait to use it.
Generally, Zeitgeist refers to an attitude or ‘spirit’ that occurs during a particular time.
It literally means, “Time Spirit”, and is etymologically related to poltergeist.
(The endings are the same!)
When Would You Use Zeitgeist?
Think back to the 1960s when a different wave of thought flowed all over the world.
Long gone were ideas of obedience to government, school or parents.
Long gone were notions of gender, race or class roles.
Instead, a spirit of new ideas forged massive changes to our culture.
Some of these were the liberation of women and the ending of apartied in the southern states of America.
New Ideas of Historical and Moral Importance
This new ideas were revolutionary and so very different.
What is interesting is that they were collectively shared by literally millions of people across the world.
This is a great way of remembering what a zeitgeist is.
If we look back in history we recognize zeitgeist moments, some good and some bad.
In England in the 19th century there was a shared opinion that all children should be educated and have healthcare.
Also, in the early 20th century many people across Europe believed in white supremacy.
Can you think of any more moments in the history of your country that could be best described as zeitgeist?