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anachronism

Printable Version Pronunciation: ê--krê-ni-zêm Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Something or someone misplaced in time, out of chronological order, either old-fashioned or futuristic, though "old-fashioned" is more commonly intended. A horse-and-buggy is an anachronism on today's modern highways, though we see them frequently here in Amish country.

Notes: Please do not confuse today's Good Word with achronism "timelessness or a lack of time", often heard in the phrase, "an achronism". See the problem? Spats, top hats, bustles, and blunderbusses are anachronisms today. Today's word offers two adjectives to choose from, anachronistic [-n-kr-nis-tik] and anachronous [-n-kr-ns]. The suffix -ly added to either gives you a perfectly formed adverb.

In Play: This word most often refers to people and things that are behind the times: "Andy Belham is an anachronism who still uses paper and a typewriter to compose his poetry." However, let's not forget that this word may refer to timely misplacement in the future: "Leonardo da Vinci was a futuristic anachronism in his day."

Word History: Today's Good Word can be traced back through the history of European word trading to Greek anakhronismos, made up of ana- "not" + khronos "time" + ismos, a noun suffix. No one really knows where Greek khronos comes from; no related terms have been found in other Indo-European languages. What it went on to become, however, is obvious. English uses it in chronic, chronicle, chronology, and synchronize—and the complete list is much longer. (However, we cannot wait to thank Amy Frits, who avoids an anachronistic vocabulary by subscribing to our series and contributing excellent Good Words like today's from time to time.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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