It’s true that there’s no distinction, but in practice the distinction isn’t needed. Nearly all major misplacements are in the ‘too modern’ direction.
Could be some localized exceptions in novels or stories set during the period of great inventions, say 1860-1960. For instance, many cities had telephone and electric service long before they had indoor plumbing. A writer could reasonably assume that an outhouse would imply a completely ‘primitive’ place, but in those cities he’d be wrong. It was common to see a TV antenna and an outhouse on the same home.
True, both anachronism and anachronistic in isolation could refer to either direction of time. Still, I don’t recall ever having a problem understanding which situation was in mind when used in any context. The referent and the setting is all you need to be entirely clear, so long as your audience has a reasonable grasp of the world.
When discussing the present, it will almost universally refer to things from a past era. When discussing historical representations, especially in various forms of art, it will almost universally refer to things from an era future to the era depicted.
Since the original question refers to a book or movie and something too modern, anachronismand anachronistic seem spot on.
Here’s a brief survey:
While the dictionaries obviously feel obliged to illustrate both senses, they generally favor the “dated” sense with their examples.
There are these notes that accompany the definition:
“It usually refers to something old-fashioned or antique”
The root seems to be in the “dated” sense:
from Greek anakhronismos, from ana- ‘backward’ + khronos ‘time’.
And actually there are mentions of the more specific words:
The current use of any word trumps its etymology. But even the etymology is less distinct than one would think. Some dictionaries gloss the ana- prefix in anachronism as “against”. It is a versatile prefix. The other “related” words have more to do with the setting of dates than with time appropriateness, so they do not form a neat set with anachronism in this sense.
I’m not sure how grudgingly dictionaries list which definitions. Clearly both senses of anachronism coexist and are solidly documented.
You have now twice repeated the point I already made way near top- where I acknowledged tromboniator’s choice of the word anachronism.
( That’s what the word “Though” means- it acknowledges what said elsewhere. )
Need usage of the other words as timelines? Here‘s one use with all 3 together that are clearly in the timeline sense:
“… the alternative of mislocating phenomena too late in the sequence of change . This is what David Wootton has called parachronism, something he sees modern historians prone to because of their fear of anachronism, “prochronism” …”
Notice this too: the author is implying that parachronism and anachronism are opposites. That , just incidentally, is my other point: Though the word anachronism is used in both senses, the more dominant use is in the “dated” sense.
I’ll let you sort it out if you still disagree. All I did was point out what’s out there.
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