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

Did you know?

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.

Example Sentences

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 The contemporary reader has a particularly difficult time trying to disentangle anachronism from obfuscation. Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, 25 Feb. 2023 Without plunging into full anachronism, the film happily plays both fast and loose with history, its tone frequently wobbling between melodrama, magic realism, and the more traditional structures of classic period drama. Leah Greenblatt,, 17 Feb. 2023 The movie is neither wholly devoted to being a period picture nor glammed up in punk anachronism like, say, Marie Antoinette. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 23 Dec. 2022 But Atlanta remains tied for first place in the NFC South despite being such a football anachronism. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 8 Nov. 2022 Critics nonetheless called the monarchy a costly and unloved anachronism, drawing its wealth from a nation that never formally assented to the royals’ luxurious lifestyle in palaces and castles. Alan Cowell, New York Times, 8 Sep. 2022 Although the architecture and interiors are just about impeccable, there’s one thing that is a clear anachronism: just how spotless East 61st Street is in those first scenes. Diana Budds, Curbed, 15 Feb. 2022 Fifty years ago, the designer—who, despite having never stomped a divot in his life, had named his brand Polo—emblazoned a two-button cotton-interlock shirt with a galloping jockey, transforming an athletic anachronism into a sartorial touchstone. Kareem Rashed, Robb Report, 26 Apr. 2022 There’s too much joyful anachronism happening to plop it in with the unsubtle ’80s revival washing through pop right now. Craig Jenkins, Vulture, 7 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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 24 Mar. 2023.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on anachronism

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

What Did You Just Call Me?

  • brown chihuahua sitting on the floor with squinting eyes looking at the camera
  • Before we went to her house, Hannah told us her aunt was a flibbertigibbet.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?