Reading one of my favorite writing sites, Daily Writing Tips, I learned a new word that is just so appropo. Retronym.
It’s just such a perfect word for Baby Boomers who have seen so much change in technology.
Here’s the Oxford English Dictionary definition of retronym:
A neologism created for an existing object or concept because the exact meaning of the original term used for it has become ambiguous (usually as a result of a new development, technological advance, etc.). A retronym typically consists of the original term combined with a modifying word.
The best example is “movies.” When silent films were the standard, these were “movies.” Then “talkies” became the norm, and “silent-movies” was born. OK, Baby Boomers didn’t go through this phase, but remember when color movies were hot? And of course, Baby Boomers grew up with black and white television
I shared my new discovery with another boomer and she responded:
So when does a retronym become a idom? ‘Hang up’ or ‘Dial’ the phone for example. Seems the older one is, the more use s/he would have need for retronymity. Does that make oldsters more inclinded to be retronymists? Is it a special class in need of protection? Oh, the questions this raises!
Indeed! Baby Boomer language is archaic, or at least showing it’s age. She has examples of great idioms. But retroymns are different. Idioms are only figurative. Retronyms are literal, but have an adjective to describe the “oldster” version.
Some of my examples are words that have made the transition, some are going through transition, and some are future transitions.
Baby Boomers please feel free to add some examples:
(word today – retronym)
- sewing machine – treadle sewing machine
- camera – film camera
- guitar – acoustic guitar
- phone – landline phone
- pool – in ground pool
- television – analog television – also HiDef/StandardDef…lots of other television examples with black and white programming, flat screens, cable (it was on cable)
- watch – analog watch (and almost anything else with digital in front of it!)
- light bulb – could go a couple of ways: incandescent bulb if CFL’s catch on, or disappear if LED’s take over.
- computer – main frame computer (and that will change as cloud computing catches on)
- music – live music (in a club)
- Going Like Sixty – Going Like Sixty blog
Going Like Sixty used to mean somebody was really boogeying. Today it refers strictly and without question to my blog. 🙂
- car – petro car – when we all will be driving hybrids
- hips/knees – artificial hips/knees when the gummit decides that at age 50, all joints should be replaced.
- mail – postal mail
- boobs – natural boobs
- erection – drug free erection
- work – productive work
- welfare – unproductive work
Got any cool retronyms? Real or made up? Baby Boomer era, or not!