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From New Latin anachronismus, from Ancient Greek ἀναχρονισμός (anakhronismós), from ἀναχρονίζομαι (anakhronízomai, referring to the wrong time), from ἀνά (aná, up against) + χρονίζω (khronízō, spending time), from χρόνος (khrónos, time). Analyzable as ana- +‎ chrono- +‎ -ism.



anachronism (countable and uncountable, plural anachronisms)

  1. A chronological mistake; the erroneous dating of an event, circumstance, or object. [from 17th c.]
    • 1848-50, William Makepeace Thackeray, Pendennis, ch 30:
      Indeed, that Hall of the Upper Temple is a sight not uninteresting, and with the exception of some trifling improvements and anachronisms which have been introduced into the practice there, a man may sit down and fancy that he joins in a meal of the seventeenth century.
    • 1848-50, Id., ch 53:
      [W]e beg the reader to understand that we only commit anachronisms when we choose and when by a daring violation of those natural laws some great ethical truth is to be advanced []
  2. A person or thing which seems to belong to a different time or period of time. [from 19th c.]
    • 1956, Arthur C. Clarke, The City and the Stars, page 32:
      His movements, his clothes, everything about him, seemed slightly out of place in this assembly. He spoiled the pattern; like Alvin, he was an anachronism.
    • 1971, Ken Welsh, Hitch-hiker's Guide to Europe, revised and updated edition, London: Pan, published 1975, page 142:
      There exist in Europe a number of independent or semi-independent countries which are complete anachronisms, they are mini-countries which have little business existing in this hurly-burly century, but somehow they survive.

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