I am struggling to find out what the best and shortest way is to describe the opposite of a legacy system (especially in software architecture, where legacy means the system used previously).

I need to use it in software so I can create methods such as:

find_legacy_record and find_[opposite of legacy]_record

I tried looking in a thesaurus for synonyms of old, but nothing really fit well with my use.

Legacy is a good term in programming, because you're less likely to confuse it to something else (old can also mean a previous state of the record, not necessarily belonging to an old system).

  • 4
    I'd suggest that "legacy" is required when it is required, whereas nothing is required when it is not; you don't need an antonym. Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 20:19
  • 3
    I'm not a programmer, so I guess I don't get it. It seems to me that the opposite of a legacy version of (a) software would be its current/latest/beta version. @Fumble Fingers might understand your query better. Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 20:53
  • 3
    @Autoresponder nailed it - legacy is the "old stuff", so the opposite is just current. Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 21:48
  • 3
    @Cristian: I can see why you might need a function called find_legacy_record(), but I don't think it makes much sense to call the "non-legacy" version anything other than find_record(). You'd just end up pointlessly adding "current" to every function name. Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 21:52
  • 3
    Just a POI: As a programmer, your code will one day become legacy, too. A better term than legacy or non-legacy would be an actual description of the record types.
    – Charles
    Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 23:07

6 Answers 6


Legacy (adj.) means “inherited”.¹ Legacy systems, for example, are the systems we inherited. In the software industry, it often has a negative connotation that the thing is obsolete (but not always²). An antonym would refer to recent innovations, so for that we would use terms such as:

  • cutting-edge systems
  • the latest systems
  • mainstream systems
  • modern systems
  • present-day systems
  • state-of-the-art systems
  • trendy systems³

Each of these has a unique shade of meaning and you would simply pick the one that is closest in meaning to what you intend.


¹ “legacy”, Collins Free Online Dictionary. This entry includes several examples of legacy as a noun modifier. These examples show that legacy always connotes inheritance, but the connotation of obsolescence comes from context. For instance, a legacy moon is apparently an astrological phenomenon:

high legacy software support costs —Computing (2010)
the hope of securing legacy giftsThe Sun (2016)
something for the legacy committee to consider —Times, Sunday Times (2012)
still using army legacy computer systemsTimes, Sunday Times (2013)
a legacy moon suggests something —The Sun (2010)

² Stanley Quayle, “Ticketmaster and its ‘old’ system”, VMS Spoken Here. Sometimes, according to Mr Quayle, “legacy means stuff that just works”.

³ Italicized terms collected from the entry “cutting edge”, Thesaurus.com.

  • 1
    None of the alternatives fits the phrase find_[opposite of legacy]_record per OP's context.
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 12:29
  • @Kris Understood, but if that limitation is added then the question becomes purely how to name the OP's variable and that is too localized. OP's stated question has the potential to be generally useful so I answered it with that in mind.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 13:50
  • In companies I've worked in we've often used the term "strategic" to mean the direction in which we wish to go, the systems that we will continue to use, indicating non-legacy.
    – jrg
    Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 12:22

Some possibilities are:

  • current
  • active
  • present
  • no additional word, just call it find_record

Greenfield is a term that describes a software system that's starting out entirely new. Not an exact match, but I can't think of anything better.

  • Interesting term. Didn't know about it. I think it's too abstract to use it here, but I'll keep it in mind
    – Cristian
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 10:20

Anterograde- Directed forward in time.


Antonym of Legacy is Provisional

  • 2
    You may want to give more detail to this answer. What is a 'Provisional System'? How/when would Provisional apply to the circumstances the OP discusses?
    – Doc
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 15:14

The usual term used is conventional.

One example:

...achieving compatibility between current digital conventional systems and legacy analog system represents a challenge.

Comparisons of Conventional and Trunked Systems (pdf)

However, this term is used more frequently as an antonym of futuristic / innovative / out of the box, that is, with reference to the future than the past. Also, dictionaries generally do not define this term in the "today's contemporary" sense.

  • The reason "conventional" is not found in dictionaries with a sense of "today's contemporary" is that it doesn't mean that. "Conventional" in your linked document is used in contradistinction not to "legacy" but to "trunked". Read the title, as well as the early sections which define "conventional", "trunked", and "hybrid", the three types of system being discussed.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 5:52
  • @MετάEd "Trunked" is the legacy system. QED.
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 5:57
  • I'm sure the anonymous down voter is a gentleman.
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 6:16
  • Actually, in your source "conventional" is the legacy architecture and "trunked" and "hybrid" are later, more modern developments.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 13:53

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