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Our Ever-Evolving Language

I learned a new word today. (Don’t get excited—I’m usually the last one to learn anything, so y’all are probably already up to speed on this one.)

Anyway, here’s American Heritage:

ret•ro•nym n. A word or phrase created because an existing term that was once used alone needs to be distinguished from a term referring to a new development, as acoustic guitar in contrast to electric guitar or analog watch in contrast to digital watch.

Here’s another example that occurred to me as I was writing this: manual transmission, or stick. In olden times, when there was only one way to deliver power from the engine to the wheels, people just called it a transmission.

Which has me wondering what we’ll eventually land on when electric vehicles become the norm. Fingers crossed for something cool like gasmobiles.



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