You may describe something that's specific to an area as being regional - the set containing a thing specific to Wiltshire, something else specific to Brittany, and something else specific to Moray might be described as a set of regional things.

What's the word for something that's specific to a time period, rather than a location, especially in the past? Not a given time period, just specific to any time period.

A set containing nuclear weapon use (second world war), data storage format wars (digital era), and major crusades (medieval era), might be described as being a set of ____ things.

"Chronodemic" feels like it should be the right word, but that doesn't appear to be a word.

  • Hmm... as an experiment, I searched for antonyms to "timeless" (aka synonyms to "ephemeral"). Most of them don't work, but a few seem possible, such as impermanent. This couldn't apply to a set of things like in your example, though.
    – herisson
    Apr 20, 2016 at 0:10
  • related to english.stackexchange.com/questions/33608/…
    – Phil Sweet
    Apr 20, 2016 at 0:13
  • 7
    'Temporal', perhaps?
    – Nij
    Apr 20, 2016 at 13:06
  • 2
    Can "chronistic" be a word? It's the natural antonym of anachronistic, which is the exact opposite of what was requested..
    – SeanR
    Apr 21, 2016 at 8:59
  • 2
    You could go full Shakespeare and just invent words :]
    – SolaGratia
    Apr 21, 2016 at 12:26

10 Answers 10


contemporaneous -

existing or happening during the same time period

Vis-à-vis the word contemporary, the very similar word contemporaneous can be used when you want an adjective for things events which were contemporary to each other, but in the past. Shakespeare's career as a playwright was contemporaneous with the settlement of Jamestown. They were contemporaneous, they are not contemporary.

  • 3
    +1 to this and for clarifying to me the difference of contemporaneous and contemporary -- which I have always wondered but never really bothered to look into. Apr 20, 2016 at 13:05
  • 1
    …are you suggesting that medieval crusades are 'contemporaneous' with nuclear weapons?
    – 568ml
    Apr 21, 2016 at 7:35
  • 4
    +1 for the correct word, -1 for the incorrect explanation of how it differs from 'contemporary'. I think the difference is more that contemporaneous refers to events that happened around the same time, whereas contemporary refers to things or people that existed at the same time (or which exist now, if only one thing is specified).
    – N. Virgo
    Apr 21, 2016 at 12:07
  • Not very pertinent, but you've made a typo with the first instance of 'contemporaneous'.
    – SolaGratia
    Apr 21, 2016 at 12:23
  • 2
    Actually, with the set of 3 examples given, I'd go with distemporaneous instead - existing or happening during different time periods. Apr 21, 2016 at 16:22

Consider contemporary in its following senses (source):

  • existing, occurring, or living at the same time; belonging to the same time: Newton's discovery of the calculus was contemporary with that of Leibniz.

  • of about the same age or date: a Georgian table with a contemporary wig stand.

  • Does contemporary not have to be with reference to a given time period, defaulting to the current one if none is specified? I'd take "A contemporary wig stand" by itself to mean a wig stand from the current time period, or from the Georgian era in the example you used, since you specified the Georgian period. Describing my set as being a set of contemporary things makes it sound like they're all things from the current time period. Apr 20, 2016 at 0:20
  • @user984119 - Your remarks are relevant: If you don't refer to a specific time period, "contemporary" will be understood as nowadays. If no period is specified, you may say "...things of/from the same period".
    – Graffito
    Apr 20, 2016 at 0:30

I'm surprised no one has mentioned temporal.

AHD gives:

1. Of, relating to, or limited by time: a temporal dimension; temporal and spatial boundaries

W3NID gives:

3. a. of or relating to time as distinguished from space

And Oxford Dictionaries Online gives:

2. Relating to time:
the spatial and temporal dimensions of human interference in complex ecosystems
This issue explores some of the temporal and political dimensions of art.

In fact, you can find it paired with regional occasionally, as in the respective titles of the 2007 paper Causes of Regional and Temporal Variation in Paleoindian Diet in Western North America and the 2015 paper Temporal and Regional Regulation of Leptin Sensitivity by Diet and Circadian Time.

  • 2
    I would say that the specific cuisine of Brittany is a "regional thing". I would not say that 1970's fashion was a "temporal thing". So I don't think the word slots into the questioner's sentence as they want to. Apr 21, 2016 at 16:12
  • 3
    temporal would equate to spatial not local/regional i.e. you are losing something about the locality of the time
    – jk.
    Apr 21, 2016 at 16:46

Great question...lots of possibilities. What's throwing me off too, in trying to answer this, is the cataloging of "things" according to compartmentalizations of time...I totally get what you're getting at though, and the word that comes up for me is epochal, but I'm not sure how to position it within a phrase. I think: "regional" is to "region" as "epochal" is to "epoch", but that's as far as I can get with it.

Here's an example I found:

Specifically, the webnetted computerized world has so democratized and monetized imagination that the global digital village has entered helter skelterly into the epochal Age of Imagination, where the collective consciousness is beginning both to blossom and be bludgeoned under the onerous expectation of glorious self-creation – which is the liberation of technology, the culmination of culture, and, supposedly, the collective dream of its denizens.

(A more detailed definition and other examples are on the same page at = https://www.foboko.com/sentence-dictionary/english/epochal)

Epoch has such intensity in meaning; it implies a creation of a boundary-containment of time specific to a qualitative global shift that can be attributed to a set of occurrences, more so than a set of things, i.e. the meaning of "nuclear weapon use" in the context of WWII is very different than "nuclear weapon use" in the context of current tensions with North Korea; though many years from now both contexts might be understood in hindsight as two (out of many) sub-occurrences of one "epochal Age of Nuclear Terror". (Just like WWI was called "the Great War" until WWII came along and renamed it retroactively.) While it feels strange to me to give "epoch" an adjectival treatment, the option of compounding to "epochally-based" is equally strange and probably not a word either, but as exampled above, "epochal" might work for your purposes...

p.s. I totally thought "temporal" would work too, but I did a bit of searching by and learned that I have not been using "temporal" correctly all this time! "Temporal" applies time-ness to an aspect of a specific something, whereas "epochal" applies something-ness to a discrete time. Joseph Grange, in "Nature, An Environmental Cosmology" states:

...making a distinction between time in its inscape as epochal and the temporal patterns of transition...

After a bit more digging, I found:

One can say that an epoch is any amount of time that is a unified and indivisible duration. Epochs do not coincide with mathematical instants, neither are they of equal duration. They are occurrences of becoming with temporal extension and no temporal divisbility.

(From "Epochal Time and the Creativity of Thinking: Henri Bergson and Alfred North Whitehead" by Maria Teresa Martins and Vieira Teixeira. Found at: http://www.concrescence.org/files/journals/1/articles/28/public/28-28-1-PB.pdf)


Whether or not something is in a geographical region is uniquely determined by its associated longitude and latitude coordinates relative to the surface of the earth (assuming it's near the surface; not too far below or above, and plate tectonics or other phenomena have not significantly altered the shape of the land masses on earth). Similarly, whether or not something is in a time period is uniquely determined the its related date(s) (or projected date if it was prior to human history).

In other words we have the following analogy: "Geographical coordinates" is to "Region" as "Time coordinates" is to "???"

I can think of the following single-word substitutions in that analogy (you can find the referenced definitions on dictionary.com; this website didn't like my lack of reputation in combination with the links I was providing):

  • era: "the period of time to which anything belongs or is to be assigned:"
  • epoch: "a particular period of time marked by distinctive features, events, etc."
  • period: "any specified division or portion of time"
  • age: "a particular period of history, as distinguished from others; a historical epoch"

The problem with those words is they are nouns and you are looking for an adjective, I think, so I'm not sure if they help.

That being said, "Wiltshire" -> "county in South West England", "Brittany" -> "north-west of France", "Moray -> council areas of Scotland", so I would describe those as "geographically western European" as their main related trait, not "geographical" in the general sense. You would need to have varied locations (including up to continents) and varied sizes of boundaries and types (i.e. unless you wanted me to think "officially sanctioned political boundaries" as a commonality, you would need to include some geographical regions that aren't sanctioned by political boundaries and some smaller ones, lest I think of macro-only).

In the same way, I came to a different main related trait for your first example. When I look at the set of "nuclear weapon use", "data storage format wars" and "major crusades" I think of competing factions of humans (without the "data storage" one, I would have thought "physically violent", as well), not things that are primarily associated with an agreed upon significant historical time period. "Nuclear weapon use", for one, (without specifying something else to make it World War II) could span many, many years/time periods - even ones that that haven't happened yet. There are some things that are strongly associated with a time period, usually something significant that happened politically, scientifically, religiously, etc. to cause a change to warrant a new label by historians.

I say that not to argue with your association to say you're wrong - more to say I don't see where you're coming from - I start with anything I can quickly think of that the semantics of the words have in common and cross of everything from that list that doesn't have a counter-example, which the length of that minimum list can be a lot to hone in on a specific concept. Now if you added a requirement like "what single word best describes what this set has in common", I might choose the most simple "significant" pattern, but in the first one I would have picked "European". Anyway if you can help clear up my misunderstanding I might be able to help find an adjective that meets your needs if the nouns I supplied (or other answers) didn't help you to your satisfaction.

  • Era, age: plus one. The only thing that's missing is times.
    – Mazura
    Apr 21, 2016 at 0:55

You could choose a number of words. I think that 'contempory' is a nice word for this, as another person suggested here.

Two more words you could use are (in order of applicability to the question):

'Synchronic' -- concerned with events existing in a limited time period and ignoring historical antecedents.

'Coincidental' -- occurring or existing at the same time.

'Coeval' -- occurring or existing at the same time. (for which 'coetaneous' is just another word)


In the sense of "regional" that you want, "restricted to a particular region", one equivalent for time is "temporary".

That is to say, the characteristic cuisines of Wiltshire, Brittany and Moray are regional things. Nuclear weapon use, format wars, and the crusades are temporary things.

That said, "temporary" is most commonly used to mean restricted to quite a short period of time, so we're taking the long view when we say that the crusades were temporary. Omnia mutantur and all that.



What's the word for something that's specific to a time period, rather than a location, especially in the past? Not a given time period, just specific to any time period.

You're already using the word "period". Let's go with it. Certain movies are known as "period pieces". People who do restorations of antiques will speak of the desirability of "period-correct" appearance. (Automobile restorers can go back to the manufacturer to get the exact color of paint that was used in that model year to achieve this.)


You might consider, topical

: currently relevant


: referring to the topics of the day or place : of local or temporary interest : a topical novel; topical references


Producing biomass specifically for energy was topical in the late 1970s to mid 1980s, and is once again of interest [...]



You could say that these topics are reminiscent of particular times:

tending to remind one of something.

"the sights were reminiscent of my childhood"

suggesting something by resemblance.

"her suit was vaguely reminiscent of military dress"

synonyms: similar to, comparable with, evocative of, suggestive of, redolent of

"the smell of fresh apple pies was reminiscent of the aromas from Gramma's kitchen in Middlefield"

(of a person or their manner) absorbed in or suggesting absorption in memories. "her expression was wistful and reminiscent"

Nuclear weapon use is reminiscent of the second world war. The data storage format wars are reminiscent of the digital era. The major crusades are reminiscent the medieval era.

The set of these topics could be referred to as topics reminiscent of particular times.

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