6

Is there a word or expression for people who have lived at the same time, even if other was only during one day? I mean people who have had at least a theoretical chance of meeting and interacting with each other at least once during their lifetime. I'm aware of the word "contemporary", but as far I have understood, it usually refers to eg. two persons whose dates of birth and/or death are quite close to the ones of the other person, so that being born one day before other person's death is not sufficient. What word or expression do you recommend?

7
  • 1
    Their dates overlap?
    – WS2
    Sep 27, 2015 at 9:14
  • 1
    @WS2 If their dates overlap, they may not necessarily have had a theoretical chance of meeting each other, if other has died eg. 1am UTC and the another is born 2am UTC on the same date.
    – nrz
    Sep 27, 2015 at 9:18
  • 5
    There is no such precise word.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 27, 2015 at 12:33
  • @HotLicks - "Contemporary". That's the first word I thought of, and the reason I rarely say "there is no such word"; as soon as I write that, such a word pops up. A newborn might not have much to say to a dying octagenarian, but they are, still if their lives overlap, contemporaries. Sep 28, 2015 at 0:40
  • 1
    @HotLicks I think it's reasonably often used to mean exactly that. I also have a vague feeling that the adjective form is more expansive than the noun form, e.g. "X was contemporary with Y" implies less overlap than "X was Y's contemporary" — but either one easily admits modifiers to make them more expansive or restrictive.
    – hobbs
    Sep 28, 2015 at 5:52

3 Answers 3

22

Contemporary is the word to use. From OED:

  1. a. Belonging to the same time, age, or period; living, existing, or occurring together in time.

  2. Having existed or lived from the same date, equal in age, coeval.

  3. Occurring at the same moment of time, or during the same period; occupying the same definite period; contemporaneous, simultaneous.

However, because it does imply a certain looseness, you may be able to imply a more exact relationship by using contemporaneous.

  1. a. Belonging to the same time or period; existing or occurring at the same time. Const. with. b. Covering the same space of time.
  2. Originated at the same time or during the same historical or geological period; of the same age.

The meanings of contemporary and contemporaneous overlap, but dictionaries aren't particularly good at conveying nuances of meaning. I would certainly give contemporaneous less leeway in matching dates than I would hearing the word contemporary.

It would probably work to say that the people were alive simultaneously (at the exact same time) but this is usually used of discrete events occurring at the same moment, rather than overlapping periods of time. However, this is likely to be the only word which definitely means the people were alive at the exact same time, rather than simply in the same period.

3
  • Yeah, the first thing that came to mind was 'it's going to be a co- word!' - and there it is :) Sep 27, 2015 at 11:27
  • An alternative to "simultaneously" is "concomitantly", i.e. happening at the same time as something else. For example: "Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer lived concomitantly" or "our ancestors lived concomitantly with Neandertals".
    – Graffito
    Sep 27, 2015 at 11:48
  • +1, but I dont know if it is the word. I like my answer a little more
    – Keltari
    Sep 28, 2015 at 0:39
1

Coexist - exist at the same time and/or in the same place.

1
  • This has connotations of existing in the same time and place, and is often used as such. Might be misleading in case OP wants to specifically imply only time.
    – ffledgling
    Jan 30, 2018 at 20:28
0

The word would be 'contemporary'. For instance, Benjamin Franklin lived to be about 84 years old. Let's say another person was born during Benjamin Franklin's lifetime, but only lived to be 56 years old. Both Benjamin Franklin and the shorter-lived man could be adults at the same time, share ideas (like many of the scientists did, even with all the tumultuous world events). Those two men would be contemporaries of each other. For example, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'contemporaneous' means 'existing, occurring, or originating during the same time.' Another example would be: "My contemporaries would easily recall phones with 'party-lines', when there were no catalytic-converters and a time when the only way to record music was reel-to-reel."

Hope this helps.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.