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Traditionally, when someone has been described in writing, readers have been left to make certain assumptions. People were specified as members of minority groups and when no such specification was made, the reader was left to assume that the person being described was a member of the majority group. The forward to The Food of a Younger Land calls out descriptions of implied whiteness from stated blackness, e.g. "Mrs. A.C. Jacobi of Pulaski County" (implied white) from "L.M. Rall, a Negro woman of Little Rock."

I've noticed a trend toward using adjectives to describe both majority and majority groups in order to be more inclusive. In the example above, the word white already existed. There are other situations where newer words are used for majority groups. My church works with people who do not have stable housing. Instead of talking about "homeless people," we talk about people who are unhoused and housed (the majority group). Similarly, we refer to individuals who are transgender and individuals who are cisgender (the majority group) and other gender categories as people self-apply.

I'm wondering if there is a name for the process of creating a word for a majority group that has traditionally been an assumption (or a word to describe these antonyms).

Here are a few examples:

  • "Now that so many people have developed COVID-19, we need to come up with a _________ to describe people who have never had the disease."
  • "The term 'housed' is a relatively new _________ to differentiate people with housing from people who are unhoused."
  • "'Cisgender' is a _________ that became popular in the 2010s to identify gender conforming individuals."

EDIT: Added examples.

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  • Thanks! Requests for words are required to give a sample sentence, and it could help head off some mistakes that I could foresee. For instance, it sounds like you're NOT looking for 1) terms for majority groups, or 2) terms for using such language, but 3) a term for coining new words for majority groups? If so, perhaps a sample sentence would be something like "As I survey people with fewer than ten fingers, for lack of an existing term I will _____ by referring to their ten-fingered peers as decephyllangic." Jan 3 at 18:18
  • (Personally, I'd be interested in #2, or an opposite for it, as in "Kurlansky's sources ___ when they identify Rall as "negro" but leave Jacobi's race assumed.") Jan 3 at 18:20
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    The new (possibly multi-word) term for the 'only original group that has traditionally been an assumption' is 'retronym' (eg 'acoustic guitar' when once 'guitar' was specific enough; 'pre-visible gas pump'. There is probably not a broadening to the sense 'a new (possibly multi-word) term for the majority group that has traditionally wrongly been considered universal'. Jan 3 at 19:49
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    It might be an example of a nonce word, but that's too general.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 4 at 18:29
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    Thanks for adding the example sentence, but I don't understand. The blank could be filled in with "term." / I guess the uninfected are most common or mainstream. Jan 5 at 1:33

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I agree with comments above that "retronym" is a pretty decent fit here - a term retrospectively created for something previously assumed.

I also note that a frequent mechanism for their creation is "back-formation", as in your example of "housed" from the previously orphaned negative "unhoused", and arguably also "cisgender" as a retrospective antonym for "transgender".

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