Going kinetic

New word department. . . Actually two new words:

“Retronym” is a word coined by Frank Mankiewicz, George McGovern’s campaign director, to delineate previously unnecessary distinctions. Examples include “acoustic guitar,” “analog watch,” “natural turf,” “two-parent family,” and “offline publication.” Bob Woodward’s new book, Bush at War, introduces a new Washington retronym: “kinetic” warfare. . . .

In common usage, “kinetic” is an adjective used to describe motion, but the Washington meaning derives from its secondary definition, “active, as opposed to latent.” Dropping bombs and shooting bullets—you know, killing people—is kinetic. But the 21st-century military is exploring less violent and more high-tech means of warfare, such as messing electronically with the enemy’s communications equipment or wiping out its bank accounts. These are “non-kinetic.”

via “Kinetic warfare.” – By Timothy Noah – Slate Magazine.

Can you think of any other retronyms?  (There used to be no need for “two-parent family,” since what other kind of family was there?  Now we need a term for the distinction of a family having two parents.  Now that we have “gay marriage,” I suppose we’ll need a retronym for “straight marriage.”)

Can you think of any other uses of “kinetic” (involving action) and “non-kinetic” (not involving action) for a retronym other than for warfare?  Say, for a program in its planning stage being “non-kinetic” and when it is implemented being “kinetic.”

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    “Bible-believing Christian”

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    “Bible-believing Christian”

  • Matthew Surburg

    “Traditional medicine.”

  • Matthew Surburg

    “Traditional medicine.”

  • Matthew Surburg

    Come to think of it, “confessional Lutheran.”

  • Matthew Surburg

    Come to think of it, “confessional Lutheran.”

  • http://www.roundunvarnishedtale.blogspot.com Cheryl

    “online friend” or “Facebook friend”
    “web log” (which has become “blog”)
    cell phone
    landline phone

  • http://www.roundunvarnishedtale.blogspot.com Cheryl

    “online friend” or “Facebook friend”
    “web log” (which has become “blog”)
    cell phone
    landline phone

  • Tom Hering

    liberal/moderate Republican

  • Tom Hering

    liberal/moderate Republican

  • Carl Vehse
  • Carl Vehse
  • Matthew Surburg

    Thanks to Carl @6 for the link to the list. They were amusing and informative. I had no idea that “Great” Britain was so called because there was also a “Little” Britain. Still, if “Ultimate Doom” was the first and not the last Doom, shouldn’t it be “Doom Prime?”

  • Matthew Surburg

    Thanks to Carl @6 for the link to the list. They were amusing and informative. I had no idea that “Great” Britain was so called because there was also a “Little” Britain. Still, if “Ultimate Doom” was the first and not the last Doom, shouldn’t it be “Doom Prime?”

  • Porcell

    “Shooting war” is better than the euphemistic “kinetic war, just as the formerly used “Department of War ” compared to the euphemistic “Department of Defense.”

    Tom, at 3, I’d counter with “conservative/moderate Democrat.”

  • Porcell

    “Shooting war” is better than the euphemistic “kinetic war, just as the formerly used “Department of War ” compared to the euphemistic “Department of Defense.”

    Tom, at 3, I’d counter with “conservative/moderate Democrat.”

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell @ 8, I wouldn’t counter your counter. Both parties used to have liberal, moderate, and conservative wings. And that’s exactly what made bipartisan governance possible (lib Dems working with lib Repubs, mod Dems working with … etc.). The ideological purges in both parties have only hurt us as a nation.

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell @ 8, I wouldn’t counter your counter. Both parties used to have liberal, moderate, and conservative wings. And that’s exactly what made bipartisan governance possible (lib Dems working with lib Repubs, mod Dems working with … etc.). The ideological purges in both parties have only hurt us as a nation.

  • Jonathan

    As a church musician, I think the term “pipe organ” makes an excellent retronym.

  • Jonathan

    As a church musician, I think the term “pipe organ” makes an excellent retronym.

  • Carl Vehse

    “old-fashioned liberal”

  • Carl Vehse

    “old-fashioned liberal”

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Paleo-conservative.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Paleo-conservative.

  • Carl Vehse

    Some others not on the “List of retronyms”:

    genuine leather
    organic food
    natural flavor
    natural grass

  • Carl Vehse

    Some others not on the “List of retronyms”:

    genuine leather
    organic food
    natural flavor
    natural grass

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Laptop computer (briefly winces at image of tape-drive IBM crushing one’s lap…)

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Laptop computer (briefly winces at image of tape-drive IBM crushing one’s lap…)

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    > Laptop computer

    I would think that the retronym would be “Mainframe Computer.”
    Yes, to distinguish it from a laptop…

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    > Laptop computer

    I would think that the retronym would be “Mainframe Computer.”
    Yes, to distinguish it from a laptop…

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Well, clearly “retronym” itself is a retronym. I mean, before all these neologisms came along requiring us to distinguish some new thing from the former status quo, we just called retronyms “words”! ;)

    …And, assuming you bought (or understood) that, that means, yes, that retronyms are autological.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Well, clearly “retronym” itself is a retronym. I mean, before all these neologisms came along requiring us to distinguish some new thing from the former status quo, we just called retronyms “words”! ;)

    …And, assuming you bought (or understood) that, that means, yes, that retronyms are autological.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Closer to my heart, I might also add “microbrew” and “Parmigiano-Reggiano”.

    All beers used to be microbrews. And, time was, all Parmesan cheese came from a particular region of Italy and not, say, from a green plastic canister filled with white plastic sponges.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Closer to my heart, I might also add “microbrew” and “Parmigiano-Reggiano”.

    All beers used to be microbrews. And, time was, all Parmesan cheese came from a particular region of Italy and not, say, from a green plastic canister filled with white plastic sponges.

  • Kirk

    @17

    Why not just “good beer” in addition to microbrew

  • Kirk

    @17

    Why not just “good beer” in addition to microbrew

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kirk (@18), ah, but not all beers used to be good, even back when they were all microbrews! Martin Luther once complained to his wife about some bad beer he’d had, not as good as the stuff she made for him.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kirk (@18), ah, but not all beers used to be good, even back when they were all microbrews! Martin Luther once complained to his wife about some bad beer he’d had, not as good as the stuff she made for him.

  • Joe

    And, despite the fact that it is really not cool to say it, some macrobrews are good. Take for example the recently re-jiggered Schlitz. It is really a very good beer.

  • Joe

    And, despite the fact that it is really not cool to say it, some macrobrews are good. Take for example the recently re-jiggered Schlitz. It is really a very good beer.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Can anyone tell me how the vote went in Congress for the big O’s ‘Kenesis’?

    I’ll bet it was a close one!

    Hahahaha!!! What a bunch of hypocrites the lefties are!!

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Can anyone tell me how the vote went in Congress for the big O’s ‘Kenesis’?

    I’ll bet it was a close one!

    Hahahaha!!! What a bunch of hypocrites the lefties are!!

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    Old Right

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    Old Right

  • Porcell

    What’s needed just now is a tough “kinetic” war against the Islamic jihadists, as opposed to “engaging” them with futile diplomacy and fighting half-hearted wars such as the ones in Afghanistan and Libya.

    We particularly need to fight the stealth Islamics such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Libya and CAIR in America. The trouble is just now is that the isolationists and pacifists are playing right into Obama’s shaky, weak, and feckless international policy that, despite the feint of Afghanistan and Libya, is a policy of appeasement.

    The very word “kinetic war” is indicative of our weakness. Too bad we don’t have a Churchillian style leader to point out the hard reality that these Islamic jihadists are a real and formidable enemy.

  • Porcell

    What’s needed just now is a tough “kinetic” war against the Islamic jihadists, as opposed to “engaging” them with futile diplomacy and fighting half-hearted wars such as the ones in Afghanistan and Libya.

    We particularly need to fight the stealth Islamics such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Libya and CAIR in America. The trouble is just now is that the isolationists and pacifists are playing right into Obama’s shaky, weak, and feckless international policy that, despite the feint of Afghanistan and Libya, is a policy of appeasement.

    The very word “kinetic war” is indicative of our weakness. Too bad we don’t have a Churchillian style leader to point out the hard reality that these Islamic jihadists are a real and formidable enemy.

  • http://www.reformingmichigan.wordpress.com Jeremy Lee

    unleaded gasoline

  • http://www.reformingmichigan.wordpress.com Jeremy Lee

    unleaded gasoline

  • Tom Hering

    I think we’re failing to understand what a retronym is. It’s the name for a thing that used to exist in only one form, and refers to that original form with a qualification – because there are now new forms of that thing. In the case of gasoline, there used to only be “gas,” but we now say “regular gas” (retronym) because unleaded gas has been created. (I don’t mean to sound like I’m jumping on you Jeremy Lee. You just offered a good example of what a retronym is not. :-) )

  • Tom Hering

    I think we’re failing to understand what a retronym is. It’s the name for a thing that used to exist in only one form, and refers to that original form with a qualification – because there are now new forms of that thing. In the case of gasoline, there used to only be “gas,” but we now say “regular gas” (retronym) because unleaded gas has been created. (I don’t mean to sound like I’m jumping on you Jeremy Lee. You just offered a good example of what a retronym is not. :-) )

  • Carl Vehse

    At one time, when the “automatic transmission” was being introduced into automobiles, “standard transmission” was the retronym referring to the common transmission using a foot clutch with the gear shift lever. But today the “automatic transmission” is the standard transmission in automobiles, and the so-called “standard transmission” is less common. Now the old retronym, “standard transmission” is referred to with the retronym, “manual transmission.”

    Does anyone know of any other retronym that has been replaced by yet another retronym?

  • Carl Vehse

    At one time, when the “automatic transmission” was being introduced into automobiles, “standard transmission” was the retronym referring to the common transmission using a foot clutch with the gear shift lever. But today the “automatic transmission” is the standard transmission in automobiles, and the so-called “standard transmission” is less common. Now the old retronym, “standard transmission” is referred to with the retronym, “manual transmission.”

    Does anyone know of any other retronym that has been replaced by yet another retronym?

  • Carl Vehse

    It’s probably a stretch to call it a retronym, but one might consider “clockwise.”

    Back when sundials were used to determine the time of day (when the sun was shining!), the movement of the shadow of the style across the surface of the faceplate was said to move in a “sunwise” direction. Whether this “sunwise” movement of the shadow was left-to-right or right-to-left depended in which hemisphere the sundial was located. When mechanical clocks were being invented, the hour hand (and later the minute and second hands) were set up so they turned in the same “sunwise” direction as the inventors saw on their sundials (It goes without saying in what hemisphere such mechanical clocks were invented.) As the use of these mechanical clocks became more common throughout both hemispheres, the term “clockwise” replaced “sunrise” as a less ambiguous term defining a certain rotational direction.

  • Carl Vehse

    It’s probably a stretch to call it a retronym, but one might consider “clockwise.”

    Back when sundials were used to determine the time of day (when the sun was shining!), the movement of the shadow of the style across the surface of the faceplate was said to move in a “sunwise” direction. Whether this “sunwise” movement of the shadow was left-to-right or right-to-left depended in which hemisphere the sundial was located. When mechanical clocks were being invented, the hour hand (and later the minute and second hands) were set up so they turned in the same “sunwise” direction as the inventors saw on their sundials (It goes without saying in what hemisphere such mechanical clocks were invented.) As the use of these mechanical clocks became more common throughout both hemispheres, the term “clockwise” replaced “sunrise” as a less ambiguous term defining a certain rotational direction.

  • Carl Vehse

    That shoudl be “sunwise” in the next to last line.

  • Carl Vehse

    That shoudl be “sunwise” in the next to last line.

  • Jonathan

    Near Beer.

  • Jonathan

    Near Beer.

  • Jonathan

    Automatic Weapon.

  • Jonathan

    Automatic Weapon.