anachronism

noun
anach·​ro·​nism | \ə-ˈna-krə-ˌni-zəm \

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-​ˈnis-​tik \ or less commonly anachronic \ ˌa-​nə-​ˈkrä-​nik \ adjective
anachronistically \ ə-​ˌna-​krə-​ˈnis-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb
anachronous \ ə-​ˈna-​krə-​nəs \ 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

As shame made way for pride, it was viewed as an uncomfortable anachronism, perpetuating the negative stereotype of the bitchy, self-hating, maudlin gay victim. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Boys in the Band': Theater Review," 1 June 2018 With all the technological turmoil that has altered audience habits, the TV industry's weeklong parade of new shows seems like an anachronism. Meg James, latimes.com, "As streaming video grows, TV networks fight to keep their share of upfront ad dollars," 13 May 2018 These by-elections are a modern quirk in a place of more ancient anachronisms. The Economist, "Peers fight for a place in the House of Lords," 21 June 2018 Yes, the royal wedding is a bizarre anachronism from another era. Constance Grady, Vox, "13 questions about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s big day, asked and answered.," 11 May 2018 If the plot is an anachronism, the emotional swell and ebb of the action is a masterpiece of regret, as happiness is marred by what cannot be said and cannot be undone. Eve Macsweeney, Vogue, "Ian McEwan and Saoirse Ronan Make Movie Magic (Again) in On Chesil Beach," 24 May 2018 The queen, who has seen a world war, social revolutions and an increasingly multi-ethnic Britain, allowed the monarchy to change and attempt to transform into less of an anachronism. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "Voices: The royal wedding is just what Brexit Britain needed. Thank Queen Elizabeth.," 20 May 2018 That ethos has long been ingrained in Gardner, the plucky 34-year-old left fielder who, as the Yankees’ longest tenured player, is somewhat of an anachronism on a team built around emerging young sluggers. New York Times, "Brett Gardner Finally Joins the Party as the Yankees Surge Into First Place," 9 May 2018 Increasingly, the nearly 100-years-old event, which started as an Atlantic City tourist draw, has often seemed like a societal anachronism, flying in the face of each new wave of feminism. Nancy Redd, Glamour, "I Won the Miss America Swimsuit Competition, but I Couldn’t Be Happier It’s Canceled," 12 June 2018

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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The first known use of anachronism was in 1617

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More Definitions for anachronism

anachronism

noun

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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