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

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

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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 In many ways, the United States Senate is an anachronism left over from a time when thirteen colonies were independent sovereign nations. Time, 27 Oct. 2021 The proponents of contraction argued that the expansive minor-league system was a wasteful anachronism; hundreds of players with no hope of making the majors populate teams just for the purpose of evaluating a few top prospects. Will Bardenwerper, Harper's Magazine, 28 Sep. 2021 Despite these warnings, and others like them, nothing was done to reform or eliminate the debt ceiling, which is a hopeless anachronism. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2021 Truth itself is an anachronism — a jingoistic dominance, probably white, probably male, probably American, certainly outdated, an abomination. Andy Martin, National Review, 10 Sep. 2021 But that anachronism just beat the world’s leading superpower. WSJ, 29 Aug. 2021 What’s more, the station hasn’t solved the most glaring Penn Station anachronism. Richard Zoglin, WSJ, 8 Oct. 2021 Givenchy's anachronism Williams was on splendid form Sunday, putting a fashion forward twist on historical clothing. Thomas Adamson, USA TODAY, 4 Oct. 2021 This was intended to help grow the streaming industry, but now the unions say that streaming is clearly established and the discount has become an anachronism. Gene Maddaus, Variety, 30 Sep. 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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The first known use of anachronism was in 1617

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Dictionary Entries Near anachronism

anachromasis

anachronism

anaclasis

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Last Updated

22 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Anachronism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anachronism. Accessed 1 Dec. 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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