Archive for May 23rd, 2012

May 23, 2012


retronymy by John Hendrix

A retronym [re-truh-nim] is a type of neologism that provides a new name for something to differentiate the original version from a more recent one. The original name is most often augmented with an adjective (rather than being completely displaced) to account for later developments of the object or concept itself. Much retronymy is driven by advances in technology.

Examples of retronyms are ‘acoustic guitar’ (coined when electric guitars appeared), and ‘analog watch’ to distinguish from a digital watch. In the entertainment industry, this can manifest itself as calling a movie ‘Part 1’ once sequels are released or by slightly altering the title (e.g. ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ or ‘Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark’) to emphasize its connection with the sequel(s), or by referring to a television series as ‘the original,’ as in ‘Star Trek: The Original Series.’

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