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retronym

definition


Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for March 12, 2020 is:

retronym • RET-roh-nim  • noun

: a term (such as analog watch, film camera, or snail mail) that is newly created and adopted to distinguish the original or older version, form, or example of something (such as a product) from other, more recent versions, forms, or examples

Examples:

“… first came paperback book, differentiated from a book with a cloth or leather binding, provoking the retronym hardcover book.” — William Safire, The New York Times Magazine, 18 Nov. 2007

“You can get a good sense of the pace of change over the past century just by looking at the retronyms we’ve accumulated. New technologies have forced us to come up with terms like steam locomotive, silent movie, manual transmission, AM radio, day baseball, conventional oven, and acoustic guitar.” — Geoffrey Nunberg, Going Nucular: Language, Politics, and Culture in Confrontational Times, 2004

Did you know?

Remember way back when cameras used film? Back then, such devices were simply called cameras; they weren’t specifically called film cameras until they needed to be distinguished from the digital cameras that came later. Similarly, the term desktop computer wasn’t often used until laptops became prevalent. A lot of our common retronyms have come about due to technological advances: acoustic guitar emerged to contrast with electric guitar, and brick-and-mortar store to distinguish traditional stores from online retailers. Retronym was coined by Frank Mankiewicz, an American journalist and former president of National Public Radio, and was first seen in print in 1980.

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Ken Saunders

Freelancer, Gadget collector, Biohacker

Ken Saunders is a freelance writer, gadget collector and Biohacker. Kens’ professional background is in Information Technology as well as Health and Wellness. His experience has given him a broad base from which to approach many topics. He especially enjoys researching and writing articles on the topics of Technology, Food, and all things Freelancing. His articles have appeared in many online sites, including Lifehack.media, Andrew Christian, Alltherooms.com and Vocal.media.You can learn more about his services at http://www.ken-saunders.info.

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