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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from anachronism

anachronistic \ ə-​ˌna-​krə-​ˈni-​stik How to pronounce anachronistic (audio) \ or less commonly anachronic \ ˌa-​nə-​ˈkrä-​nik How to pronounce anachronic (audio) \ adjective
anachronistically \ ə-​ˌna-​krə-​ˈni-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce anachronistically (audio) \ adverb
anachronous \ ə-​ˈna-​krə-​nəs How to pronounce anachronous (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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web In an era of increasingly bitter partisan enmity, the odd coupling of Ginsburg – petite, serious, seemingly shy – and Scalia – rotund, garrulous, overtly opinionated – may be viewed as an anachronism. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Opera, travel, food, law: The strange bedfellows friendship of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia," 20 Sep. 2020 In an age of digital reproduction, when every bit of text and image is instantly snipped, posted, retweeted, and commented upon thousands of times, the media’s persistent devotion to the idea of the scoop, the exclusive, is a charming anachronism. Jacob Bacharach, The New Republic, "The Instant Nostalgia of the Televised Campaign," 9 Sep. 2020 Another anachronism: a Gibson guitar years before one would have been made. Rich Heldenfels, Star Tribune, "'Waltons' reruns available on several services," 24 Aug. 2020 For all its romantic history and pageantry, the sport brims with anachronisms that are wearing thin in 21st-century America. Smithsonian Magazine, "When the Race Is Over," 17 Apr. 2020 Regrettably, the United States is burdened with an anachronism called the Electoral College, reflecting the mistrust of small states for large ones. Washington Post, "Editorial Roundup: US," 22 Jan. 2020 The paradox of Mantel’s historical trilogy is that Cromwell’s anachronisms strengthen his credibility as a character. Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, "Hilary Mantel Takes Thomas Cromwell Down," 5 Apr. 2020 Somewhat of an anachronism as an oversized edge rusher, Epenesa still can somewhat compensate for his subpar burst with power, length and fluidity, giving him a relatively high floor. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "NFL draft 2020 rankings: Chase Young, Joe Burrow headline top 50 rankings," 14 Apr. 2020 Otherwise, the cancellation of the Frankfurt event could be the signal that auto shows are a costly anachronism set to fade away. NBC News, "It's the end of the road for the Frankfurt Motor Show," 10 Feb. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about anachronism

Time Traveler for anachronism

Time Traveler

The first known use of anachronism was in 1617

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about anachronism

Statistics for anachronism

Last Updated

4 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Anachronism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anachronism. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for anachronism

anachronism

noun
How to pronounce anachronism (audio)

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

Comments on anachronism

What made you want to look up anachronism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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