ante litteram

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Borrowed from Latin ante (before) + litteram, accusative singular of littera (letter, writing).


ante litteram

  1. Before the term existed; before the term was coined; used after a term applied anachronistically.
    In the fifteenth century, he espoused ecology ante litteram. He endorsed ecology before the term "ecology" existed.
    • 2007, Patricia Vilches, Gerald E. Seaman, Seeking Real Truths: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Machiavelli, page 191:
      What could have been a moral victory or arguably a feminist struggle ante litteram remains a farcical squabble
    • 2011, Davide Rodogno, Against Massacre: Humanitarian Interventions in the Ottoman Empire, 1815-1914, page 16:
      the new mass media played an increasingly crucial role throughout the nineteenth century as an ante litteram CNN.