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ZEITGEIST

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ZEITGEIST

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Oct 17, 2012 11:41 pm

• zeitgeist •


Pronunciation: zait-gaist • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: The spirit of the times, the tastes and attitudes of a generation, the cultural climate of an era.

Notes: Zeitgeist is another lexical orphan without lexical relatives. However, the zeitgeist of an era usually launches a flurry of new words. The zeitgeist of the Roaring 20s brought us jazz, speak-easies, flappers, and the words that go with them. The zeitgeist of the 40s was one of unity and world war. This was the era of the chopper, pinup, dreamboats, and thingamabobs.

In Play: The zeitgeist of the 60s and 70s was one of liberation, individualism and rampant creativity. It also saw, like, sit-ins, brought to us on the boob tube, far-out happenings that would blow your mind, and groupies that hung loose. Want more? See alphaDictionary's Historical Dictionary of American Slang.

Word History: The origin of today's Good Word, if you haven't already guessed, is the German language. It is a compound made up of Zeit "time" + Geist "spirit". The concept of Zeitgeist goes back to Johann Gottfried Herder and other German Romanticists, but is usually associated with Hegel's philosophy of history. In 1769 Herder wrote a critique of the work Genius saeculi by the Christian Adolph Klotz, and introduced the word Zeitgeist to German as a translation of "genius saeculi": genius "spirit" + saeculi "of the age". The English word that comes from the same the Proto-Germanic word as Zeit is tide, which originally meant "time", still evident in yuletide. Geist came to English as ghost, but Geist itself was borrowed by English in poltergeist, literally "rattling ghost", from poltern "to jangle, rattle" + Geist. (If alphaDictionary is a part of the zeitgeist of the 21st century, Suzanne Russell keeps the spirit very well, having suggested several very Good Words over the past years.)
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Re: ZEITGEIST

Postby bnjtokyo » Thu Oct 18, 2012 6:22 am

So "Time and tide wait for no one" is redundant
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Re: ZEITGEIST

Postby MTC » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:28 am

It's not surprising, is it, that in an island, seafaring nation time and tide must be intimately connected. Tides rise and fall rhythmically like the pendulum of a clock. Ships are launched, voyages are begun at high tide, the most opportune time. Shakespeare wrote: "There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." (Julius Caesar) Time and tide are one.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB6DPrOX5Ak)
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Re: ZEITGEIST

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:38 am

I have seen that reference in so many movies....launching
the ship at "high tide" that it has always been a curiosity to
me. Living 1000 miles from the nearest ocean I'd love
to experience that someday.
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Re: ZEITGEIST

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:44 pm

I would not consider "Time and tide wait for no one" to be redundant. Time does not mean tide in modern English. The idiom goes well with "spick and span", "kith and kin" and other associated or identical word pairs used in this way.
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Re: ZEITGEIST

Postby Slava » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:25 pm

However, the tide in this phrase does not refer to the fluctuations in sea and ocean levels. It refers to a time.

As I wrote in another post, Christmastide is one of them. We also have such things as Good Tidings and noontide.
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Re: ZEITGEIST

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:36 pm

Also, "Eat a snack to tide you over until dinner time." Then we could tidy up the office using almost the same word as a verb.
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Re: ZEITGEIST

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:08 pm

My grandmother used to say: "Wash your hands and tidy
up before dinner".
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Re: ZEITGEIST

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:46 pm

Then there's Weltanschaung which was the Zeitgeist Jimmy Carter referred to as "malaise."
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Re: ZEITGEIST

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Oct 20, 2012 12:09 am

Karl Barth on Weltanshauung. I am glad to know that I don't have to have any of the stuff since I cannot understand what it is. I do read Barth, but I found this in a comment on Weltanshauung in Merriam Webster on line.

"As Christians, we must not let ourselves be taken captive either by an ancient picture of this nature or one newly arisen and beginning to be dominant. And above all we must not combine the Church's business with this or that Weltanshauung.... The Church must beware of establishing itself on the basis of any sort of Weltanshauung. For Weltanshauung is very near 'religion'. But by the decisive content of the Bible, Jesus Christ, we are by no means enjoined to adopt a Weltanshauung for our own. We Christians are once and for all dispensed from attempting, by starting from ourselves, to understand what exists, or to reach the cause of things and with or without to reach a general view.... Here is the fundamental difference between all Weltanshauungen and what Holy Scripture and faith have to say. In a Weltanshauung we start from what is, as being the meaning, on order to step up from the depths to a conception of a God; but in Holy Scripture we have to do with heaven and earth and with man solely in the context of 'I believe in God the Creator of Heaven and Earth'. In this genitive it is made manifest that I believe not in creation, but in God, the Creator." (Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline, Chapter 9, trans. G.T. Thomson)
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Re: ZEITGEIST

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Oct 20, 2012 1:20 am

For those who don't do German, that long word means "worldview," and I'm pretty sure in the Carter crack I had confused it with schadenfreude, which sorta means enjoying feeling bad or sometimes making others feel bad. The dictionaries say it's joy in the misfortunes of others, but I've seen it used in quite a few related ways.
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Re: ZEITGEIST

Postby Slava » Sat Oct 20, 2012 1:35 am

Schadenfreude and Weltanschauung have both undergone surgery by the Doc. For their respective treatments, see:

http://www.alphadictionary.com/goodword ... adenfreude

http://www.alphadictionary.com/goodword ... anschauung
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Re: ZEITGEIST

Postby MTC » Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:31 am

But has the Good Doc dissected "Gemütlichkeit?"

This German loanword glows with cozy hospitality and belonging. It has none of the cold, philosophical pretensions of either Zeitgeist or Weltanschauung.

After the discussion of rap music hit a sour note, time to share a friendly stein and some strudel. Ya!
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