I've looked in a few online dictionaries, and I don't see any definitions of "anachronism" that seem to encompass this situation. However, I feel like, etymologically, this term could be used in the following way:

Since some construction was begun before the designs were truly complete, I have added four days to our estimate to account for the inefficiencies caused by these various anachronisms.

It seems like it should be able to be used this way, but I'm not aware of any precedent. If this cannot be a usage of "anachronism," can you suggest a word that could be used in this context? I'm mainly looking for a noun that refers to actions that occurred in an order other than the proper/established order.

  • Just because a meaning is etymologically appropriate for a word, doesn't mean you can actually use the word for that meaning and be understood. – Peter Shor Jan 26 '15 at 16:43
  • I think you're trying to squeeze too much meaning into a single word. You added those days to account for inefficiencies caused by the fact of having already done some things in a non-optimal sequence. – FumbleFingers Jan 26 '15 at 16:43
  • Thank you, Peter. I agree. That's why I thought I should ask here to see if people would understand. I don't plan on using it in formal writing after reading your and FumbleFingers's comments. FumbleFingers, I don't think my example conveyed what I meant. I really am trying to refer to just the "things done in a non-optimal sequence." I am updating the example to better show this. – Adonneus Jan 26 '15 at 16:50

The OED carries only two senses of the word anachronism (see below), which involve the ascribing of something to a wrong time-period, such as when the clock strikes in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. They didn't have striking clocks in ancient Rome, whilst they had them in Shakespeare's day.

I feel sure that the instance you quote is a malapropism. I would have said ...inefficiencies caused by these premature starts.

1.An error in computing time, or fixing dates; the erroneous reference of an event, circumstance, or custom to a wrong date. Said etymologically (like prochronism) of a date which is too early, but also used of too late a date, which has been distinguished as parachronism.

  1. Anything done or existing out of date; hence, anything which was proper to a former age, but is, or, if it existed, would be, out of harmony with the present; also called a practical anachronism. Also transf. of persons.
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"out-of-sequence events" is as concise a substitute as I can come up with.

If you want to be crude and sarcastic, you could say "because we did it bass-ackwards" (which is, if you didn't know, a euphemism for "ass-backwards"). But this refers to the out-of-sequence-ness of the whole series of events, not to any one event.

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