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 anachronism (audio) \ or less commonly anachronic \ ˌa-​nə-​ˈkrä-​nik How to pronounce anachronism (audio) \ adjective
anachronistically \ ə-​ˌna-​krə-​ˈni-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce anachronism (audio) \ adverb
anachronous \ ə-​ˈna-​krə-​nəs How to pronounce anachronism (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 The anachronism is light, but telling: A white man references FUBU more than a century early. Darren Franich, EW.com, "The Underground Railroad review: An ambitious American odyssey, compelling even when it's flawed," 4 May 2021 History buffs may cry anachronism at some of the costume choices, but different cuts of dresses and color choices brilliantly illuminate the status and personality of their characters. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Review: Netflix's magnificent 'Bridgerton' glitters with period drama glory," 25 Dec. 2020 As such, the traditional fast break — which in the dark ages led to an easy layup or dunk worth only two points — has started to become an anachronism. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "For Spurs and Jakob Poeltl, fast breaks not always a slam dunk," 22 Apr. 2021 The feeling that once pervaded Albany, N.Y. (anachronism). Washington Post, "Style Invitational Week 1428: The Tile Invitational VIII," 18 Mar. 2021 This anachronism encourages public figures to signal their outsider status with aesthetic posturing. Samuel Goldman, Star Tribune, "America has a ruling class, whether those who are in it admit it or not," 31 Mar. 2021 In a quaint anachronism, the bill was endorsed by leaders of both parties as well as the healthcare industry and even conservative groups like the Heritage Foundations. Jake Bittle, The New Republic, "The Nail-Biting Story of Obamacare," 26 Mar. 2021 Brooks’s jab, a callback to the witty white-male cruelty that thrived in the aughts, now directed at a woman of color by a member of Gen Z, felt like an anachronism. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "“The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” Is Culturally Sensitive Trash," 8 Feb. 2021 But the album, co-produced by Dan Auerbach and Kevin Augunas (Edward Sharpe, the Lumineers), also positioned the singer as a rural anachronism amidst the post-Mumfords banjo boom, an image June has been carefully and subtly shedding ever since. Jonathan Bernstein, Rolling Stone, "Valerie June Merges Folk, Blues and Pop on the Meditative ‘The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers’," 11 Mar. 2021

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

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Anachronism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anachronism. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on anachronism

Nglish: Translation of anachronism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about anachronism

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