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A word for a symbol which has outlived its origin

Ok, messy title. Sorry, but I have a memory of reading an article (possibly on Boing Boing) that mentioned this word. Essentially, it refers to the way visual elements in man-made objects are copied from predecessors.

Examples are how cellphones have a phone icon for the classic AT&T phone design that hasn't been used for decades. Or a DVD player/media player that uses a cassette tape icon. And yet another example is the injection molded plastic chairs you can buy at Wal-Mart where they imprint them with fake weave patterns, to mimic the old woven grass style of patio furniture.

Hopefully someone has a clue what I'm thinking of because I can't for the life of me recall this term.

marked as duplicate by Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, MetaEd, Matt E. Эллен, FumbleFingers, tchrist Oct 10 '12 at 23:29

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 4
    This question may be somewhat relevant. – Zairja Oct 10 '12 at 2:55
  • Oh, wow, that's basically a duplicate! Didn't see that earlier... I think there is value in having both questions, though, since they describe the word differently enough that they would capture different sets of search terms. – alcas Oct 10 '12 at 3:14
  • Your examples, esp., the molded chairs one, are not skeuomorphic, to the extent that the design is more intentional than vestigial. I would look for a more appropriate term. Let's wait and see. PS: In fact, it appears to me that the semantics are actually reversed. You bring a forgotten/ obsolete pattern and incorporate in the design for the purpose of symbolism, nostalgia or even a sense of comfort. For me, retro has a much closer analogy. – Kris Oct 10 '12 at 10:00
  • I looked at the other question and it's specific to symbols, while Skeuomorph (which was the word I was looking for) covers more than just symbols. And the term retro is not at all appropriate here, IMHO. – Riffer Oct 11 '12 at 1:16

I think you're looking for skeuomorph: "a product [that] imitates design elements functionally necessary in the original product design, but that becomes ornamental in the new product design."

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