Having worked and lived in Germany (West Germany then) as an airline executive and having picked up some basic German, my first guess of the meaning of the word Zeitgeist then was “time ghost” or “time spirit” since geist = ghost or spirit and zeit = time. LOL as the younger Gen X and Gen Y would say in their internet slang. Used in the German usage, it was the spirit of the time and was intended to describe the general trend of thought or feeling prevailing during that specific period of time.
Zeitgeist is also a nice-sounding word that became part of the English language. And so it was the spirit of the age or the spirit of the time to describe the moral, intellectual, and cultural climate of an era; for example the Zeitgeist of England in the Victorian period including in a belief in industrial progress.
Zeitgeist In Popular Vocabulary…
Zeitgeist has merged into our popular vocabulary and widely used, often with scant regard as to what it means. According to Daily Writing Tips, some writers use it as a mere synonym for “trend,” or “fad.” Some plant it in the (usually) redundant phrase “zeitgeist of the moment.” Others, perhaps wishing to create a phrase on the model of Oprah’s “aha moment,” talk about a “zeitgeist moment.”
A special interest group, the Zeitgeist Movement, and Google have co-opted the word to special uses. The smart people in Google releases what the world has been searching, by categories, for each year.
So What Did The World Search In 2012?
In 2012 there were 1.2 trillion searches based on 146 languages. On a global basis, the top 3 searches are :