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Is she the ant anachronism?
January 24, 2014 2:39 PM   Subscribe

A type of ant, typical of summer and practically unseen in winter, shows up in our house in January. Would you call that an anachronism?

More generally, can you speak of an anachronism if your measure of time is not linear (past, present, future), but cyclical (seasons, months, etc)?

If not, what would you call our ant, or anything that happens "on the wrong part" of the cycle?

Though I will appreciate answers that clarify where or whether ants are unusual in the winter time, my question is about the usage of the word 'anachronism' and/or alternatives in this context.

Thanks in advance!
posted by ipsative to Writing & Language (10 answers total)
 
I'd say 'unseasonal'.
posted by pompomtom at 2:42 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


An anomaly?
posted by lisa g at 2:46 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


I have only ever seen and heard the word anachronism used in the context of things from the past happening out of chronology. Perhaps my circles are small, though, and using it to describe cyclical is technically correct. However, since I have never heard it used that way, if you were describing your ants to me as anachronistic I would have no idea what you were talking about, and would assume, perhaps, that your ants were reenacting battles of the early crusades while wielding broadswords.

I, too, would use unseasonal.
posted by phunniemee at 2:53 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


If you're asking for permission to drop "anantchronism," I'd definitely want to expand the traditional scope of the word's definition to allow for a good pun.

But, yeah, I don't otherwise see the word used this way, sorry to say.

Does "unseasonant" help at all? I know, not as good.
posted by saramour at 2:55 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


> A type of ant, typical of summer and practically unseen in winter, shows up in our house in January. Would you call that an anachronism?

No, that is not how the word is used. The suggestions in the first couple of comments are good alternatives.
posted by languagehat at 2:57 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


More like antachronism, HAR HAR HAR sorry.

Anyway, no. I know that language is fluid etc., but I think anachronism generally has connotations of linearity and greater distance in time. If you see a car from 1982 on the road, for example, it's not really an anachronism. A model T might be, especially if it were driven by people in period clothing.

It's definitely "something from a different era or period in time" and not "something from a different season".
posted by kavasa at 3:00 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


It's an unanticipated arrival. OHOHOHO etc.

Yeah, anachronism generally views periods as blocks on a linear continuum.
posted by holgate at 3:14 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Not an anachronism. It wouldn't even be unseasonal if you were in the Antipodes...
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:17 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


More precisely, "anachronism" is usually used to describe an instance in literature or film where something from a period later than the historical setting makes an appearance. For example, a film is made today, set in 1776, and a character uses the expression "the whole nine yards" which, while its origin is unknown, is not documented before 1907. That's an anachronism. Your ants are aseasonal.
posted by beagle at 3:18 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Oh too bad, it would've made me happy...

'Unseasonal' sounds correct and reasonable, thank you for that!

(Thanks especially for all the puns! I'm calling her Antonia... )
posted by ipsative at 3:39 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


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