I'm sure there's a word for this, but I don't know what it is. Specifically, the concept associated with nationalism - the glorification of a past time period as being better than the current one, which usually results in exaggerating that time period's positive aspects and downplaying its negative aspects. It's not quite nostalgia, I don't think.

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    Some form of Utopianism, combined with a pining or yearning or nostalgia for a putative "Golden Age". Medieval Europe did his for centuries, with Rome as its ideal, for centuries before the Renaissance. And the Romans did it with the Greeks. I agree this is a widespread enough human phenomenon that is must have been given a name. Perhaps the name came as a pair: one for describing conservatives who cast Utopian back into the mists of history, and another progressives who cast Utopia into the fog of the future... – Dan Bron Jul 20 '16 at 11:34
  • Can you write an example sentence where the word or phrase would be used? – user140086 Jul 20 '16 at 11:40
  • A specific type of nostalgia that idealizes the past? Yes, there should be a word for that, but I'm not sure that there is. Actually, maybe it's "nostalgia." I'm hard pressed to think when nostalgia doesn't do exactly that. Nostalgia seems to look invariably through rose colored glasses. – Benjamin Harman Jul 20 '16 at 13:14
  • Is it about elders telling us "back in my day,..."? I'm sure it's a meme now. Also, maybe "back in my day disorder" in psychology. – NVZ Jul 20 '16 at 16:51

Two words I often use when I'm doing that myself are:

  • romanticizing: transitive verb : to make romantic : treat as idealized or heroic intransitive verb 1 : to hold romantic ideas 2 : to present details, incidents, or people in a romantic way
  • glorifying: transitive verb 1 a : to make glorious by bestowing honor, praise, or admiration b : to elevate to celestial glory 2 : to light up brilliantly 3 a : to represent as glorious : extol b : to cause to be or seem to be better than the actual condition
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Try saudade, a Portuguese word I just learned about this year. It is a nostalgic longing for a past or a place or something that has happened, or maybe hasn't, but tinged with distinct melancholy and a sense of loss.


noun (Especially with reference to songs or poetry) a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese or Brazilian temperament

"her songs are based on love poems and evoke a melancholy known to the Portuguese as saudade"

See also: Saudade: An Untranslatable, Undeniably Potent Word

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If you're longing for a past that never was you're likely deluding yourself :

impose a misleading belief upon (someone); deceive; fool –Google

"That's 'delude yourself', dummy."

See also, disillusionment (for what comes next).

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People often refer to the Myth of the Golden Age for this kind of delusion. The term "The Golden Age" originally referred to a posited era of extreme wealth and prosperity in Greek mythology. However, nowadays it's often used in relation to crime, sociology, politics and many other areas to describe a supposed golden period which never actually existed, but is always cited by humbugging reactionaries.

Here are some examples from Google.

An excerpt from STREET DISORDER IN THE METROPOLIS, 1905-39 Stefan Slater:

When all is said and done, our perceptions of violence do indeed depend on where we look. That, if nothing else, should alert us to the possibility that, in our eagerness to dispel the myth of a conflict-free golden age, we may be exaggerating the tensions of [earlier societies] while overlooking the reality of violence in our own times.

A sub-title in a California Law Review paper: Right to Marry, Martha C Nussbaum:


From Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters:The Struggle over Segregated Recreation in America Victoria W. Wolcott:

The popular myth of a golden age of urban recreation does not include the reality of white violence and black exclusion.

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if it's England there's a term Merrie or Deep England: ""Merry England" is not a wholly consistent vision but rather a revisited England which Oxford folklorist Roy Judge described as "a world that has never actually existed, a visionary, mythical landscape, where it is difficult to take normal historical bearings."" from Wikipedia.

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  • Hi anna, welcome to EL&U! Please try to back up your answer with a source citation and expand your answer, as it is lacking in length and content. Thanks. – Lordology Feb 20 '19 at 12:56

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