is a neologism
for an existing thing that differentiates the original form or version from a more recent one. It is thus a word created to differentiate between two types, whereas previously (before there were two types) no clarification was required.
Advances in technology are often responsible for the coinage of retronyms. For example, the term "acoustic guitar" was coined at the advent of electric guitars
and were thus renamed to distinguish them from once the latter were invented.
The first bicycles with two wheels of equal size were called "
" because they were easier to handle than the then-dominant style that had one large wheel and one small wheel, which then became known as an "ordinary" bicycle.
Since the end of the 19th century, most bicycles have been expected to have two equal sized wheels, and the other type has been renamed "penny-farthing
" or penny-farthing
The Atari Video Computer System platform was rebranded the "Atari 2600" (after its product code, CX-2600) in 1982 following the launch of its successor, the Atari 5200, and all hardware and software related to the platform were released under this new branding from that point on.
The original Game Boy was referred to as "Game Boy Classic" after the release of Game Boy Color. Another gaming example is the original Xbox being referred to as the Xbox 1 prior to the release of the Xbox One, similarly today it is commonly referred to as the "Xbox Classic" or simply "the original Xbox."
The term retronym
, a neologism
composed of the combining forms +
, was coined by Frank Mankiewicz
in 1980 and popularized by William Safire
in The New York Times Magazine
In 2000 The American Heritage Dictionary (4th edition) became the first major dictionary to include the word retronym.