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From Ancient Greek σκεῦος (skeûos, implement, tool, vessel) + μορφή (morphḗ, form), modeled after zoomorph (resembling an animal) and phyllomorph (resembling a plant).


  • IPA(key): /ˈskjuːəmɔɹf/ enPR: skyo͞oʹə-môrf
  • (file)


skeuomorph (plural skeuomorphs)

  1. A design feature copied from a similar feature in another object, even when not functionally necessary. [from 1889]
    • 1889, Henry Colley March, “The Meaning of Ornament; or its Archæology and its Psychology”, in Transactions of the Lancashire and Chesire Antiquarian Society, volume 7, page 166:
      As soon as man began to make things, to fasten a handle to a stone implement, to construct a wattled roof, to weave a mat, skeuomorphs became an inseparable part of his brain, and ultimately occasioned a mental craving or expectancy.
    • 1987, Alexander von Gernet, Peter Timmins, Pipes and Parakeets: Constructing Meaning in an Early Iroquoian Context, Ian Hodder, Archaeology As Long-Term History, page 37,
      One of the most striking examples of a skeuomorph is the aforementioned impaled bird motif which has the stem of a pipe thrust through the body of a duck or other bird, so that the mouthpiece protrudes from the bill.
    • 2000, "skeuomorph", entry in Barbara Ann Kipfer, Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology, page 519,
      A decorative bow attached to a shoe is a skeuomorph of the laces once used to tie it; triangular shapes drawn below handles on pottery are skeuomorphs of the metal plates by which the handles on metal prototypes were attached; and the semicircular mark on the back of a teaspoon represents the broadening of the handle where it was soldered to the bowl when it used to be made in two pieces.
    • 2005, Alice A. Donohue, Greek Sculpture and the Problem of Description, page 81:
      Such skeuomorphs can be used to reconstruct ephemeral artifacts that cannot be recovered archaeologically. Understood in this way, the skeuomorph functions to extend the archaeological record.
    • 2007 April 6, Jennifer Viegas, “Stonehenge Amulets Worn by Elite”, in Discovery News:
      While working two months ago in South Lowestoft, Suffolk, British archaeologist Clare Good excavated a four-sided object made of the mineral jet. It closely matches a geometrically designed gold object found far away at a burial site called Bush Barrow near Stonehenge in Wiltshire. The match is so close that experts believe the black artifact is a skeuomorph, or a copy in a different material.


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