Definition of anachronism in English:



  • 1A thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.

    ‘the town is a throwback to medieval times, an anachronism that has survived the passing years’
    • ‘There were plenty of in-jokes, parodies of scenes from other films and background anachronisms to keep the viewer busy; a tactic which will no doubt generate repeat business and, eventually, DVD sales.’
    • ‘With Montreal booming through the '60s, the narrow streets and old apartments - so coveted today - were considered anachronisms and health hazards.’
    • ‘After a day spent in dress rehearsal for a war that doesn't seem to be happening, the boys head to the local dance club looking like ludicrous anachronisms in their white Foreign Legion caps.’
    • ‘Furthermore, the presence of bizarre anachronisms undermines the historical value of the picture.’
    • ‘Still, much of that probably stems from the dialogue, which is full of jarring shifts between period-speak and anachronisms.’
    • ‘It's the knee-jerk caricature of American generals as intolerant anachronisms.’
    • ‘Even if all the anachronisms, like the electric table lamp and fan in the study of Dostoevsky or cigar lighters or costumes of characters were overlooked, there still remained hitches.’
    • ‘It's cautious about its voice (although there are occasional weird stylistic anachronisms, which may be deliberate, but also, rather depressingly, may not be), anxious not to overstep its own mark.’
    • ‘The organizations that control these networks are limping anachronisms that are constrained by the expense and physical necessity of using wires to build their networks.’
    • ‘The politicians as we know them are already anachronisms.’
    • ‘All modern radiators have been removed and replaced, while fresh paint has been applied to mask any anachronisms which do not fit in with the historic surroundings.’
    • ‘In the age of the internet, to bodily drag yourself into offices that are fast becoming expensive anachronisms does seem a little perverse, while the advantages of telecommuting are enormous.’
    • ‘Officially, Russia seeks to lure tourists to its charms, which range from its rich cultural history to the anachronisms which are peculiarly its own, like Lenin's mausoleum, still faithfully guarded on Red Square.’
    • ‘These groups would be at risk of becoming mere anecdotes; anachronisms of a bygone time and a lifestyle that is passing.’
    • ‘When a character in a novel set in the 15th century uses a word, ‘taboo,’ that did not enter any European language until the 18th century, the attentive reader begins to look for anachronisms.’
    • ‘In the smaller courts in particular, where the painter was free to indulge his fights of fancy, anachronisms and incongruities abound.’
    • ‘The world tends to look at such women today as anti-feminist anachronisms, naïve traitors to the cause of womankind, setting back the march of the liberated by their very existence.’
    • ‘But if these historic anachronisms are to survive beyond the very short term they must quickly find a social role and shed the haughty isolationism which has shielded them from commercial realities.’
    • ‘I loved being around him, I loved feeling his presence in the house, I loved his self-assured nature, and his quirky anachronisms.’
    • ‘The film wears all its anachronisms on its sleeve and evades any of the empty solemnity that is often associated with tales of love and sword fights.’
    1. 1.1[mass noun]The action of attributing something to a period to which it does not belong.
      ‘it is anachronism to suppose that the official morality of the age was mere window dressing’
      • ‘The principal themes of his fiction writing have been vampires, revenants, and creative anachronism.’
      • ‘Within the substitutional mode, anachronism was neither an aberration nor a mere rhetorical device, but a structural condition of artifacts.’
      • ‘There is a major sin in history writing, that of anachronism.’
      • ‘It's littered with anachronism and it borders on profane ideas riddled as they are with holes.’
      • ‘Instead, he decided that anachronism would be a major theme and encouraged the actors to avoid affecting British accents.’
      • ‘This awkward anachronism came about when a couple of hundred prefabricated bungalows, built to house workers on an irrigation project in the 1960s, fell into disuse.’
      • ‘It is another anachronism to think that the author of his plays must have been a nobleman.’
      • ‘Thus the preface to the text informs us that to avoid anachronism, ‘the entomology [sic] of the slang’ was carefully checked.’
      • ‘Usually you will find me with my head in a book muttering at the unreality and anachronism in some flouncy, Austen thing.’
      • ‘It could help to deflect the usual charges of anachronism and unfamiliarity with the period.’
      • ‘I delivered a paper on anachronism and identification in Aristotle and Freud a million years ago at a conference in New York.’
      • ‘The filmmaker has to create a period ambience and avoid anachronisms.’
      • ‘Some might object that to push a modern idea such as ‘international system’ back into the past is to commit anachronism.’
      • ‘The problem here - as with so much popular and scholarly debate on his work - is one of conceptual anachronism.’
      • ‘In a world hurtling into a space-age, perhaps we need a bit of anachronism, a place that exudes such history.’
      • ‘It's difficult to tell when this anachronism is deliberate, and when it is merely a lack of writerly control.’
      • ‘In the course of discussing this last category, he directly engaged the topic of anachronism.’
      • ‘The claim put forward here is that all these kinds of anachronism, good and bad, were grounded in a common way of thinking about artifacts and have to be dealt with together.’
      • ‘He must also ask this question to avoid the error of anachronism (or ‘presentism’ as some historians call it).’
      • ‘The pejorative charge of anachronism as the inadmissible confusion of periods or eras presupposes that the accuser knows what the correct time of history is.’


Mid 17th century: from Greek anakhronismos, from ana- backwards + khronos time.