anachronism

noun
anach·​ro·​nism | \ ə-ˈna-krə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce anachronism (audio) \

Definition of anachronism

1 : an error in chronology especially : a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other found several anachronisms in the movie
2 : a person or a thing that is chronologically out of place especially : one from a former age that is incongruous in the present By the time I reached my teens, the housewife was an anachronism, replaced on television by the perky, glamorous, character of That Girl, Marlo Thomas, who kept her boyfriend at bay in the interest of pursuing her acting career. — Joyce Maynard
3 : the state or condition of being chronologically out of place

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Other Words from anachronism

anachronistic \ ə-​ˌna-​krə-​ˈni-​stik How to pronounce anachronistic (audio) \ or less commonly anachronic \ ˌa-​nə-​ˈkrä-​nik How to pronounce anachronic (audio) \ adjective
anachronistically \ ə-​ˌna-​krə-​ˈni-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce anachronistically (audio) \ adverb
anachronous \ ə-​ˈna-​krə-​nəs How to pronounce anachronous (audio) \ adjective
anachronously adverb

Did You Know?

An anachronism is something that is out of place in terms of time or chronology. The word derives from chronos, the Greek word for "time," and ana-, a Greek prefix meaning "up," "back," or "again." When it was first used in English in the 17th century, anachronism referred to an error in the dating of something (as, for example, in etymology, when a word or use is mistakenly assumed to have arisen earlier than it did). Anachronisms were sometimes distinguished from parachronisms, chronological errors in which dates are set later than is correct. But parachronism did not stand the test of time. It is now a very rare word.

Examples of anachronism in a Sentence

In our modern world of pre-made, rush-rush, tightly scheduled lives, Amanda Blake Soule is an anachronism. At their home in coastal Maine, her family of six makes most of what they use—everything from bread and crafts to clothes and toys. — Jean Van't Hul, Mothering, March/April 2009 The spy thriller is a genre that arguably should have died fifteen years ago, and its continued popularity seems an anachronism at first glance. — Rand Richards Cooper, Commonweal, 14 Sept. 2007 With few exceptions, work opportunities for older people diminished after the Civil War as the United States metamorphosed into an urban-industrial order, inaugurating a second phase in the history of retirement. The village blacksmith became an anachronism as the craftsman retreated before the new mass-production industries. — W. Andrew Achenbaum, Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2006 But Shakespeare may have drifted into anachronism here. According to Rogers, food in France at the time of Agincourt was probably just as meaty and unsophisticated as it was in England. — Jonathan Ree, Prospect, August, 2003 It is true that in the closing years of the century William Jennings Bryan could still rise to national political leadership through his superb oratorical skills, but it is equally true that he lived to see himself become an anachronism, the bearer of a style redolent of an earlier culture. — Lawrence W. Levine, The Unpredictable Past, 1993 The novel is full of anachronisms. He's an old-fashioned politician who is seen by many of his colleagues as an anachronism.
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Recent Examples on the Web But nationally, with a groundswell of political momentum growing out of the California Legislature for college athletes to be able to profit from their name, image and likeness, Swinney comes off like an anachronism. J. Brady Mccollough, chicagotribune.com, "Clemson’s Dabo Swinney makes $9.3 million a year but doesn’t think players should be paid. Why?," 7 Oct. 2019 Calla Kessler/The New York Times In the age of e-commerce, Black Friday can feel like an anachronism. New York Times, "Black Friday 2019: What You Need to Know," 29 Nov. 2019 In addition to such frisky anachronisms, Johnson winks at the viewer by featuring the visages of local artists, notably himself. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: From artist Timothy Johnson, a heady exhibition," 18 Oct. 2019 But nationally, with a groundswell of political momentum growing out of the California legislature for college athletes to be able to profit from their name, image and likeness, Swinney comes off like an anachronism. Los Angeles Times, "Dabo Swinney makes $9.3 million a year but doesn’t think players should be paid. Why?," 4 Oct. 2019 Now, as the Bay Area’s population and economy surges, and demand grows for more housing, roads like San Pablo Avenue in the East Bay and El Camino Real on the Peninsula have become anachronisms. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "East Bay cities look to reinvent and reinvigorate aging, car-oriented corridors," 27 July 2019 But recent history is full of apparent anachronisms (gas guzzlers, Birkenstocks, Donald Trump) that managed an unlikely second act. Alex Williams, New York Times, "As Men Are Canceled, So Too Their Magazine Subscriptions," 2 Nov. 2019 DeRozan is something of an anachronism in the modern NBA. Jeff Mcdonald, ExpressNews.com, "For Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan, three’s a conundrum," 20 Oct. 2019 This studious avoidance of politics made Hong Kong an anachronism, out of step with the independence and liberation movements that swept through Africa and Asia in the 1950s and 1960s and the Cold War tensions that dominated the 1970s and 1980s. Jonathan Kaufman, BostonGlobe.com, "Are Hong Kong protests a preview of China’s uncertain future?," 6 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'anachronism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of anachronism

1617, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for anachronism

probably from Middle Greek anachronismos, from anachronizesthai to be an anachronism, from Late Greek anachronizein to be late, from Greek ana- + chronos time

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Time Traveler for anachronism

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The first known use of anachronism was in 1617

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Last Updated

30 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Anachronism.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Anachronistically. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for anachronism

anachronism

noun
How to pronounce anachronism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of anachronism

: something (such as a word, an object, or an event) that is mistakenly placed in a time where it does not belong in a story, movie, etc.
: a person or a thing that seems to belong to the past and not to fit in the present

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More from Merriam-Webster on anachronism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with anachronism

Spanish Central: Translation of anachronism

Nglish: Translation of anachronism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about anachronism

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