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See also: Retronym



From retro- +‎ -onym; coined by Frank Mankiewicz[1] and popularized by William Safire[2] [3].



retronym (plural retronyms)

  1. (grammar) A new word or phrase coined for an old object or concept whose original name has become used for something else or is no longer unique. [from 1980s]
    • 1982 December 26, William Safire, “On Language: Watch what you say”, in New York Times[4]:
      The phrase is a retronym, the term Frank Mankiewicz has coined to describe names of familiar objects or events that need a modifier to catch up to more modern objects: day baseball and natural turf are in the same category as analog watch.
    • 2004, Geoff Nunberg, Going Nucular: Language, Politics, and Culture in Confrontational Times, →ISBN, page 239:
      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 [...]

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Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Jeremy M. Brosowsky (March 2001), “Frankly Speaking”, in Business Forward[1], archived from the original on September 20, 2002, retrieved November 8, 2017
  2. ^ William Safire (December 26, 1982), “On Language: Watch what you say”, in New York Times[2]
  3. ^ William Safire (January 7, 2007), “On Language: Retronym”, in New York Times[3], retrieved November 8, 2017



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retronym n (singular definite retronymet, plural indefinite retronymer)

  1. (grammar, rare) retronym




retro- +‎ -onym


retronym c

  1. retronym


Declension of retronym 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative retronym retronymen retronymer retronymerna
Genitive retronyms retronymens retronymers retronymernas

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