Some may not be familiar with the term “anachronism” but all readers of this post will most likely be able to think of at least one after learning the meaning of the term. The literal meaning for the word anachronism is described as “against time,” or a chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of people, events, objects, or customs from earlier periods of time. How is that definition for being wordy?
A good example that comes to my mind is as follows. The Pilgrims traveling on the Mayflower to the New World would use a GPS device for determining the ship’s position on the ocean blue, rather than the well-known and venerable sextant of those days. And if we saw an American Indian navigating the broad western plains by consulting a topographical map, even one drawn on skins, I believe this would fit the term we are exploring. The Native Americans depended mostly upon their own memory or that of the elders of the tribe when moving about.
Today there are many potential anachronisms we could construct. But few persons realize we use some common anachronistic phrases almost daily. We sometimes say the phone is ringing off the wall or off the hook. However, for the most part we only see phones in museums or very old houses that hang on a hook or fit into a cradle, but we continue to use the old fashioned term. Another is that of “watching replays on film” when analyzing a sporting event or when seeking to identify a criminal where video cameras may be in place. Film is seldom if ever used today and movies recorded on film from a bygone era that requires preservation are usually digitized and even colored, if they were originally black and white.
Now, for a mental exercise, see how many anachronisms you can think of that are used today, as there are many phrases that don’t fit today’s circumstances or lifestyle. It could be a good family exercise to see how many each member of the family could conjure up. Prizes could be awarded for the one who related the most examples, and a side benefit would be that the exercise would stimulate the minds of the participants, thereby becoming better educated.