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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, Jennifer Viegas, "Stonehenge Amulets Worn by Elite", Discovery News, April 6:
      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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