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

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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 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 The Chrises — Pine and Evans — have public personas based largely on displaying self-awareness of their type in an attempt to hold any sense of anachronism at bay. New York Times, 27 July 2021 Williams, the daughter of a Congregational minister, invokes themes of purity and sin, and yet the religious retains an aura of anachronism. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 20 Sep. 2021 But over the past decade, raising the debt ceiling has turned from an annoying anachronism into partisan political theater. Washington Post, 15 Sep. 2021 This anachronism causes Christmas to be replaced by Beebomas in the future, which is how the Legends get involved. Chancellor Agard, EW.com, 25 May 2021 Yet, for disability inclusion as it is understood today, as opposed to 1960 when the first Paralympics was staged, is the idea of an entirely separate Games exclusively for athletes with disabilities just an anachronism? Gus Alexiou, Forbes, 5 Sep. 2021 From our own harried vantage, late-19th-century England might seem like an idyllic era of rustic leisure, but Hardy’s novel depicts a world in which the meandering of a dark and crooked lane is already an anachronism. Washington Post, 3 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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Time Traveler for anachronism

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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

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Anachronism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anachronism. Accessed 26 Oct. 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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