Sunday, April 22, 2007

How many gigawatts would it take...

Daniel often plays around with words over at his non-etymologically-dedicated web log. Choosing to fashion a word for one occasion he writes

I think I collected Praveen because that seems like an anatopism (anachronism for a place?) for Bow, New Hampshire.
So of course I piped in with a chiding tone and offered the following jab.
anachorism already works for that.

Daniel always responds well to any discussion of words and can always contribute as much as he is willing to learn. He writes
Even though there are twice as many occurrences of anachorism as there are anatopism (4,400 to 2,200), I'm gonna stick with anatopism for a couple reasons. First, I "created" (though it previously existed) it for myself, and second, the Shorter OED has anatopism and not anachorism. And while it isn't worth anything Wikipedia has an entry for anatopism too. What does "chor" mean in Greek?

I don't really like the close spelling of anachorism and anachronism either, and it seems like anachorism has more connotation of error or mistake, while I'm looking for "out of place." Thank you for providing some options though, I do appreciate it.

I will not argue against his decision to stick with it.

Some observations:
A) Anachorism and anatopism were both probably coined specifically to serve as companions to anachronism. To deem the former suspect because of its similarity is a valid aesthetic stance.

2) The use of ana- as a prefix for the "out of time" word is a stretch as the prefix means back or backwards. It is perhaps appropriate in anachronism which etymologically means something closer to "too early a time" than "in the wrong time." Etymologically anachorism and anatopism don't make much sense. Does "behind or after the place" really capture the intention?

For the sense of "outside the correct time (or place)" the para- prefix works well. In fact parachronism is listed by the OED with a citation about 5 years earlier than anachronism. But an even earlier citation than that (by almost 25 years) is given for metachronism in 1617. The meta- prefix is slippery and can mean with or above or beyond or behind or between or resulting from or occurring after or it can denote a process of change. So at least one of those can work well for the typical meaning of anachronism. I like para- because with its own varied uses it retains the idea of beyond. Even when used to mean with it has a strong connotation of separateness.

Next) To answer Daniel's question: χωρίον can be read as country or place. It would be fun to make a well navigated journey between anachorism and anchor. The connection between a word about being out of place and a word about being in only one place could support quite the fun little etymoscopy. A quick and unexamined glance shows me that it's not as simple as this post could handle; though for a second I thought it might be.

4th) The Shorter OED is an excellent desk reference that goes deeply into its hoard. In exchange for this depth the tome sacrifices breadth. The ambition of the full OED cannot be well met on a desktop. Of course we can trust that the editorial decisions account for something of course; but shall I start trying to use "bootylicious" just because it's listed?


  1. What does the title of this post have to do with anything?
    I was expecting some kind of Back to the Future reference, given that it was such a bootylicious film.

  2. Ah perhaps that'll be a fun puzzle.

    It's perhaps too general a connection -- but I did make sure to put a little marker in the post to justify the title. If I don't get a good guess in a day or so I'll just reveal what I was thinking.

  3. actually jangari, your catch is good enough for me to just go ahead and say it.

    I was simply thinking of the connection of an anachronism to Back to the Future because the title implies an anachronism of sorts.

    To be a little more specific I was thinking of the DeLorean and its role as a vehicle for moving out of time. All these words anachronism metachronism parachronism are appropriate to the word on the car's license plate: "OUTATIME"

  4. I had a chance to get to the "longer" OED today. Of course, I only found more support for my stance. OED says anachorism is a nonce-word, while anatopism is merely "rare." Plus, anatopism is fifty years older than its step-brother.

    To extend a hand of friendship, I promise I'll use anchorite/anachoret, for hermit, instead of anatopist.

  5. Blogger ate the comment I posted yesterday...
    I won't go through it all again, but yes, it's both anachronistic in the 'too early a time' sense and parachronistic in the 'beyond its time' sense, depending on whether you're talking about the DeLoeran or the 1950s context.
    I also pointed out that the license plate was only 'outatime' until the Doc had some modifications done in 2015. After that, the number plate was a barcode.

  6. OUTATIME...

    How about exochronistic? Out of time... in the sense of, quite literally, outside of time. Considering the endeavor in question, one could argue you would be traveling outside of time as we understand it arrive at the destination.

    Which makes me consider something... extra has a core sense of "additional", so why is it that we use the term extraterrestrial to describe something originating from another planet? Terrestrial being from terra for earth, or in this case Earth, how would being from another planet denote "additional Earth... ness"? There is also an implication of superiority that joins along with extra; which is too subjective and prejudiced a meaning for such a general description as it is in use. It seems to me exoterrestrial is a more accurate word.

  7. We should distinguish between the word extra and the prefix extra-. While the word as a root has shifted towards the sense of additional the prefix retains the sense of outside or external that the Latin word had.

    Consider the sense of outside in all of the following.


    Some of these might have counters that seem to say the opposite: For example extra-verbal expression is that which does not involve words. But take away the hyphen and an extra verbal person uses many words.

    If we rely on exo- as a prefix we're mostly just switching to a Greek form. And although exo- has the meaning of outside it has a connotation that implies part of a system that is outside, but still functionally connected. Consider that the exoplasm is the outer layer but it does function as a part of the protoplasm.

  8. Who said Wikipedia isn't worth anything? Anachorism is a perfectly acceptable term to denote being out of space or location. So, cacti in the tundra would be anachoristic to that location.


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