Saturday, November 7, 2009

Let's Go Retro!

Retro? Yes, as in retronyms! A retronym is a term created to clarify an existing word whose meaning has become unclear due to societal or technological changes. For example, 'snail-mail' is a retronym used to distinguish electronic communications from traditional postal service. The word 'retronym' was popularized by William Safire (who passed away earlier this year), and first appeared in the American Heritage Dictionary in 2000. Here are some popular retronyms:
  • free-range chicken
  • black & white photograph
  • summer Olympics
  • acoustic guitar
  • classical music
  • push mower
  • whole milk
  • pocket watch
  • dirt road
  • manual transmission
  • propeller airplane
  • hardback book
  • organic food

I hope you enjoyed this little look at retronyms. If you know any interesting ones, please send them in a comment or email. To close, here's a photo I took from the car a few days ago. It's a bit blurry, but I think this gives it a dreamy quality (it's a beautiful house on the Battery in Charleston).


  1. Fun post and very interesting! :)

    AND...thank you for sharing about the George Cooper poem. I thought it was a beautiful thing to tuck into your heart.

  2. pre-fab fireplace as opposed to a masonry fireplace? i'm off to learn more --- yay!

  3. L - Thanks for stopping by and for reminding me of the poem. It's a very sweet memory!

    Janean - Thanks so much for adding a new retronym to the list!


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