22. Retronyms, Eponyms, & Words from place names

Posted: 2013 年 12 月 28 日 in Logology
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A retronym is a new term created from an existing word in order to distinguish the original referent of the existing word from a later one that is the product of progress or technological development. For example, what used to be called books (which always had hard covers) are now called hardcover books to distinguish them from paperback books.

  1. acoustic guitar: created because of the invention of electric guitars

  2. AM radio: created when FM radio was introduced

  3. analog watch: created when digital watches were introduced

  4. bar soap: created to distinguish it from liquid or gel soap

  5. black-and-white TV: created to distinguish it from color TV

  6. cloth diaper: created after the invention of disposable diapers

  7. corn on the cob: created after the introduction of canned corn

  8. disposable battery: created after rechargeable batteries became popular

  9. film camera: created after the invention of digital cameras

  10. regular coffee: created after the invention of decaffeinated coffee


Eponyms are words from a person whom a discovery, invention, place, etc., is named or thought to be named.

  1. biro

  2. boycott

  3. cardigan

  4. draconian

  5. macadamia nuts

  6. maverick

  7. nicotine

  8. pasterized

  9. sandwich

  10. saxophone

  11. teddy bear


Many words gain their descriptive power from their association with place names. For example, Broadway is often used to describe musical theater; Fleet Street has been used to describe the British press because it is a London street that used to house many newspapers. Words from place names are easier to understand if students are familiar with their backgrounds.

  1. bedlam (pandemonium): after a popular name and pronunciation of St. Mary of Bethlehem, London’s first psychiatric hospital

  2. bikini (skimpy two-piece bathing suit): after Bikini Atoll in the Marshal Islands, where atomic bombs were tested in 1946–supposedly analogous to the explosive effect on the male libido

  3. bohemian (describing individuals who wish to live an unconventional lifestyle): after Bohemia, where gypsies were erroneously thought to have originated

  4. Chinese wall (an insurmountable barrier, especially to the passage of information): after the Great Wall of China

  5. denim (a coarse cotton fabric): after French serge de Nimes, where the cloth originated




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