In-use terms with anachronistic referents
July 24, 2012 9:09 AM Subscribe
I'm looking for examples of terms that remain in common use, even though the technology that they originally described is obsolete or has changed. Also: does this phenomenon have a name?
posted by condour75 to Writing & Language (39 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
The examples that come to mind are: A motorboat or ship can sail to a destination, even though it doesn't have a sail. The save icon shows a 3.5 inch disk that is no longer used. An online tabloid may be referred to as a rag. For many the original reference may be lost to most modern users.
I feel like there are a million of these on the tip of my tongue, and I'd even say I bet there's like one well known perfect example. But I can't think of many at the moment. Help!
(backstory: in the ad serving industry, images are used when a user's browser doesn't have flash. These are traditionally called "backup gifs," but they can usually be jpgs, and that's what brought it up.)