Anachronisms that persist

My friend who is my age (56) recently called a refrigerator an ‘icebox’ even though home refrigerators have been around since what, the 20s or 30s? Still, not so crazy, I suppose.

But even more surprising to me, just the other day my 15 year old son referred to aluminum foil as ‘tinfoil’. I don’t call it ‘tinfoil’, and I thought that someone of his generation saying ‘tinfoil’ was very odd, since foil hasn’t been made out of tin since the 40s.

What persistent anachronistic terms do you guys either hear people still using, or still use yourselves?

Athletes still get chided for telegraphing moves.

That reminds me of one I still use— ‘dialing’ a phone number. But as anachronistic as that term is, I don’t think there’s a good modern replacement. ‘Punching in’ a phone number? ‘Inputting’ a phone number?

Is there anything about the word “dial” that intrinsically links it to rotation? Or is it just that all the early devices that we used for dialling did in practice involve rotation? In other words, is there any good reason to resist expanding the meaning to encompass keypad-based dialing?

The term ‘taping’ a video or audio recording is still in common use even though it has been almost two decades since digital optical disk formats (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray) have virtually taken over those formats (and digital compression and streaming have made all dedicated ‘hard’ media obsolescent). I once had to explain to a twenty-something individual about 8-track cassettes and he looked at me as if I’d grown a second head; admittedly, the 8-track “Stereo 8” cartridge format was pretty awful, but I’m sure being able to take your music to go and play it in a moving vehicle was bleeding edge technology circa 1965.


“Is there anything about the word “dial” that intrinsically links it to rotation?”

From Wiktionary: The original meaning was ‘sundial’ and/or 'clock dial '; from Middle English diall, from Middle French dyal, from Latin diālis (“daily, concerning the day”), because of its use in telling the time of day, from Latin diēs (“day”).

So the roots of the word describe a round numbered/marked object that orginally measured daylight/time, based on the apparent rotation of the sun around the earth.

The kids I coach, despite relying on phones, will tap their wrist when asking for the time.

I know most cars have fuel injection, but I still use “carb” too often and incorrectly.

The little “save” icon in most computer apps is a floppy disc. When’s the last time you saw a floppy disc, let alone used it?

So, not only an anachronism, a double anachronism. Even when applied to a telephone dial.

True. I’m sure the elders of an earlier era laughed at the youngsters dialing their first rotary phone, amused that most of them would not even recognize a sundial.

The hand signal for “call me” harkens more to the way you hold a handset, even though you don’t extend your thumb and pinky to use a handset, I assume they represent the ear and mouthpieces with the other fingers wrapped around the center. Nowadays, holding a phone is more the thumb and pointer finger extended with the other three fingers above the exposed palm.

Granted, people still use handset phones at work, so they aren’t totally out of the picture. But the kids @running_coach coaches probably use handsets as much as they use watches, and still know what the “call me” hand signal means.

Icebox Man by Carlin, may have something to do with that. Some of his best (non blue) stuff.

I still ask my wife to tape a TV show on the DVR.

Speaking of rotation, I still “roll” down the windows in my car even though I haven’t owned one with a manual crank in decades.

My friend still calls birds dinosaurs, even though it’s been millions of years since they were dinosaurs. Some people just get stuck in their ways.

When Touchtone phones rolled out in the 1960s there were phrases like “Touch 123-555-1212!”

I still hear accounts on the news about someone “filming” with their phone.

“Ring up” in the check-out lane. When cash registers sounded a bell when you hit “Total”.

A “touchdown” in American and Canadian football takes its name from earlier versions of the rules, particularly rugby, in which a player had to actually touch the ball to the ground in order to actually score. The name persists in the American and Canadian rules, despite the fact that this hasn’t been the case in those rules codes for well over 100 years.

Not only did my grandmother, ( 1913-1983 ) call a refrigerator “the icebox” even though all I’ve ever seen ( as one of very later born grandchildren ) in her house was a refrigerator, but quite a few of my friends and acquaintances called it that as well. We all knew it wasn’t really a box filled with an ice block with a drip pan below it. It was just semantics reinforced through repetition.