What word describes giving someone an epithet that predates their time?


What word describes giving someone an epithet that predates their time?
I’ve come across websites equating Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ with Marxism (not my opinion). If someone called Thomas More a Marxist, what would be a formal term to describe that?
I look forward to your feedback

proto-Marxist. You can get away with a lot of anachronism sticking a ‘proto-’ on the front.

Or the fancy French way would be to call him a Marxist avant la lettre.


Yes–this is the formal term.

For what, exactly, in this context? The word usually refers to an error, so it might be appropriate in pointing out somebody’s mistake in the unlikely event that they were unaware that Marx lived in a later era. But I thought Aspidistra nailed what the OP was really asking.

You mean postdates, not predates. And “proto-X” works well. Or “incipient X”

Yes thanks Mr Dibble. That’s what I meant.

Certainly not. From Merriam-Webster:

While technically More might be seen as chronologically out of place, that is not the sense in which “anachronism” is usually used. One might consider a modern proponent of the divine right of kings an anachronism, but not for someone who was an early example of a modern phenomenon. (This said, if such an example appeared in a work of fiction it would be an anachronism in the sense of an error.)

I agree that proto-Marxist might be a good term for such a case.

Does the rhetorical term “prolepsis” apply?

–The anachronistic representation of something as existing before its proper or historical time, as in the precolonial United States.

–The assignment of something, such as an event or name, to a time that precedes it

–The use of a descriptive word in anticipation of the act or circumstances that would make it applicable

– Anticipation before something starts

Prolepsis is a figure of speech. You wouldn’t use it to refer to More with respect to Marxism.

But calling More a proto-Marxist would be a prolepsis, no?

No. Why would you think that?

ETA, okay, I just took in LynnM’s list.

I’ve never seen prolepsis used to mean these things. Where is that list from?

Some words that come to mind:

a nascent Marxist

a precursive Marxist or a precursor to Marxism.

embryonic Marxism.

No. As I said, it is a literary device. It wouldn’t be used in reference to an historical figure.

“Ur” can be used as well.

The meaning sought seems to be “Ahead of it’s time”

Not really. The meaning of “ur-” is proto-, primitive, or original. It is often used to indicate the earliest example of something.

It’s from German, but when I first saw it I assumed it must refer to Ur in Sumeria, one of the oldest known cities. (It doesn’t.)

You could possibly refer to More as an ur-Marxist, but that would presume there were no earlier known examples.

I thought that about Ur too.

In the OP do we know that it isn’t meant that way? I can’t tell if it’s a mistaken word choice or intentional. You don’t have to say he was “The” ur-marxist. You could be saying he was “an” ur-marxist.

Is it this?
“He would fit the decription of a marxist although he was born in 16xx”"


You misunderstand. Calling Moore a “Marxist” is an anachronism. It is the word that is so described. Nobody is claiming that Moore was an anachronism.