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Is there a word that means "outdated name"? For example:

  • Record, although very little music is on vinyl
  • Film, although most movies are digital
  • Horsepower, although no one uses horses as a metric anymore
  • Phone, although it's mostly used to access the web

and so on.

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How about 'old fashioned'? +1 – user19148 Jun 25 '12 at 18:34
Also, "sail" across the sea and "dial" a number. – Gnubie Jun 25 '12 at 18:37
Is the term "horsepower" really outdated if it's a standard measurement unit? It doesn't fall into the same category of archaic measurement unit that "fortnight" would. – oosterwal Jun 25 '12 at 22:04
@Gnubie A few years back some radio talk show host noted that "dial" doesn't really make sense as we no longer actually dial phones, and so he announced a contest for people to send in new words or phrases. A week later he announced the winning entry: "digitally initiate audio link". Of course that's a long and cumbersome phrase, but the sumibtter suggested that for everyday use people could use the acronym: DIAL. – Jay Jun 26 '12 at 13:41
@oosterwal The poster isn't saying that these words are no longer used, but rather that they are "outdated" in the sense that their literal meaning or roots are no longer applicable. As I think about this now I'd quibble. "Film": yes, as movies become digital, this is anachronistic. But there's no such issue with his other examples. "Phone" is short for "telephone" which comes from the Greek for "far sound". That word implies nothing about whether the sound is transmitted digitally over the Internet or by analog signals over traditional phone wires. "Horsepower" measures power ... – Jay Jun 26 '12 at 13:47
up vote 46 down vote accepted

These terms are holdovers from a previous era.

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Interesting suggestion. I'd go so far as to say that these are linguistic holdovers, in that it's not so much the technology or the medium that survived, but the words that persisted. (One of my favorites is glove compartment. Every now and then, I've heard people refer to the refrigerator as an icebox, too. Funny how they still call those things you get at a hotel a key. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now...) – J.R. Jun 25 '12 at 20:22
This is a better choice than anachronism (see also comments at @JLG's answer). – John Y Jun 25 '12 at 23:07

You could say that it's an anachronism.

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An anachronism is something out of its own time, e.g. a television in Victorian London, or people using muskets in a space battle. – Ben Jun 25 '12 at 23:31
-1 As @Ben notes, an anachronism is something in the wrong time period (like everything in the Flinstones) which is not what the OP is describing. – Dave Jun 26 '12 at 7:24
@Ben, Dave. But a full-rigged ship today would definitely be a tangible anachronism: I don't think OPs context is too much of a stretch. – TimLymington Jun 26 '12 at 11:47

Archaism is defined as: An archaic word, phrase, idiom, or other expression.

And archaic itself has a linguistics-related definition (see #3 below)

archaic [ɑːˈkeɪɪk] adj 1. belonging to or characteristic of a much earlier period; ancient 2. out of date; antiquated an archaic prison system 3. (Linguistics) (of idiom, vocabulary, etc.) characteristic of an earlier period of a language and not in ordinary use

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Archaic words are those words which are no longer in everyday use but sometimes used to impart an old-fashioned flavor. – user20934 Jun 25 '12 at 19:13
@rudra, You could argue that the words in the OP's question belong to an earlier period and are out of date (using my definition). – JLG Jun 25 '12 at 19:21
OP is looking for a term for words in current use; the definition cited in this answer clearly identifies "archaic" as a term for words not in current use. – MετάEd Jun 25 '12 at 19:24
+1 I think this word can be used in some colloquial context to emphatize the old-fashiond usage of some terms. – user19148 Jun 25 '12 at 19:37
I don't think anachronism is quite right, either, though, based on its definition. I personally voted for holdover. – JLG Jun 25 '12 at 19:57

Such expressions are perhaps edging towards fossilised metaphor.

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Is that the same as a 'dead metaphor' (a non-literal usage which is not recognized as a metaphor at all) – Mitch Jun 25 '12 at 19:06
@Mitch: I believe so. – Barrie England Jun 25 '12 at 19:41
But his examples aren't metaphors. They may be fossilized something-else. – Jay Jun 25 '12 at 19:41
@Jay: I did say 'edging towards'. – Barrie England Jun 25 '12 at 19:43
I can't find any instances of 'fossilised metaphor' (British spelling) and rare use of 'fossilized metaphor' and 'fossil metaphor' via ngrams – Mitch Jun 25 '12 at 20:05

I think the best possible word for this is anachronym.

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Did you just make that word up or are you refering to anacronym? – deutschZuid Jun 26 '12 at 3:17
Right: an anacronym is an acronym that most people use as a word, without knowing the original words whose initials make it up, like "laser" or "radar". – Dave Land Jun 26 '12 at 6:17
Made up the same word. Really like it. Will probably use it. – Patrick Perini Jun 26 '12 at 23:41


is probably a good fit (antiquated terms/terminology):

an·ti·quat·ed/ˈantiˌkwātid/Adjective: Old-fashioned or outdated.
Synonyms: obsolete - out-of-date - old-fashioned - outdated




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Where are those citations from? Please tell us the name of where you got those from, and if applicable, also a link. If you are going copy out text verbatim, our Help Center says that you must name where you got the original from, and this post fails to do that. Please see the question on meta entitled “What to do about missing source attributions: Copying, Linking, Attributions, and Plagiarism for discussion on this. – tchrist Jul 7 '14 at 23:22

Deprecated? Although it sounds like you want a noun.

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Do you mean depreciated - or do you really disaprove of the terms? :) – Wolf5370 Jun 26 '12 at 19:03

They're perhaps "stabilized" or "commemorative" metaphors more than "fossilized" ones in that nothing better has come along.

Their common appeal is that they have a sense of immediacy and tactile quality to them: the hand on the phone set to dial, the glove in the compartment, the ship gliding on the sea - even film (over video) has a sensuous quality - its thinness, the image of a film of oil floating on water comes to mind.

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protected by RegDwigнt Jun 26 '12 at 9:20

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