New Words Created for Old Objects

I learnt to type on a manual typewriter. Actually, we just called it a typewriter in those days. But then electric typewriters were invented and later computers, laptops and tablets. So we added the word “manual” to make it clear what type of typewriter we were talking about.

In those days we had objects like soap, ovens, telephones and books. Everyone knew what those words meant.

That was until new products came onto the market. And then we needed new words for those old objects.

We added adjectives to the nouns to form new words. We call these new words retronyms.

Here are some examples:

The soap we used in the past is now known as bar soap. Today we also have soap in liquid and gel form.

The milk we drank is now called dairy milk. Today we also have plant milk, like almond, coconut, cashew, hemp, soy and rice milk.

Today we talk about biological mothers as opposed to surrogate and adoptive mothers.

And the books I used to take out of the local library are now known as paper books, as opposed to e-books.

If you’re interested in finding more retronyms, take a look at this long list on Wikipedia here.


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Foto Christine Sparks

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