anach·​ro·​nism ə-ˈna-krə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce anachronism (audio)
: 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
: 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
: the state or condition of being chronologically out of place
anachronistic adjective
or less commonly anachronic
anachronistically adverb
anachronous adjective
anachronously adverb

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An anachronism is an error of chronology in which something, such as an object or event, is placed in the wrong time. Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar includes a famous anachronism, with Cassius alluding to a mechanical clock (“The clock hath stricken three”) in a play whose events take place more than a thousand years before mechanical clocks were invented. Anachronism has its roots in Greek chronos, “time,” and ana-, a Greek prefix meaning “up,” “back,” or “again.” Anachronisms historically were sometimes distinguished from parachronisms, chronology errors in which an event is placed later than it occurred. Both anachronism and parachronism (and also the latter’s now-obsolete synonym metachronism) date to the 17th century, but only anachronism has stood the test of time.

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web On one side are those who regard the nation-state as a racist, colonialist anachronism, evil in theory and retrograde in practice. Hugo Gurdon, Washington Examiner, 12 Jan. 2024 Jack Quaid's Richard Feynman has few lines but is recognizable due to his bongos—an anachronism, since Feynman didn't take up the bongos until later in life, but an entertaining anachronism. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 5 Aug. 2023 Baudoin & Lange Even among those familiar with the style, the opera pump has long been considered an anachronism. Eric Twardzik, Robb Report, 11 Dec. 2023 In the context of global warming, Sites Reservoir must be seen as an anachronism. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2023 That Belle still makes for a generally spunky heroine is attributable to Mitchell’s general verve and ability to wring humor out of Belle’s too-smart-for-the-room anachronisms. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Nov. 2023 Their costuming and makeup frequently take place in real time, onscreen, with a wryly straightforward sense of anachronism. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 10 Nov. 2023 If the boat is an anachronism, so too is its owner. Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2023 Walker has always invested her work with a haunted sense of history, using irony and anachronism to mine the historical trauma of white supremacy in the American South. Kriston Capps, Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'anachronism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1617, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of anachronism was in 1617


Dictionary Entries Near anachronism

Cite this Entry

“Anachronism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


anach·​ro·​nism ə-ˈnak-rə-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce anachronism (audio)
: the placing of persons, events, objects, or customs in times to which they do not belong
: a person or a thing out of place in time and especially the present time
: the state or condition of being out of place in time
anachronistic adjective
anachronistically adverb

probably from Greek anachronismos "anachronism," derived from earlier anachronizein "to be late," from ana- "up" and chronos "time" — related to chronic, chronicle, synchronous

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