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Advances in technology are often responsible for retronym coinage. For example, the term "acoustic guitar" was coined at the advent of electric guitars, and analog watches were thus named to distinguish them from digital watches.
Sometimes retronyms serve to differentiate two similarly named people, as with U.S. President George Bush, who, after his son George W. Bush was elected president in 2000, was typically referred to as "George Bush, Sr.", "George H. W. Bush", "H. W.", or "Bush 41" (as he was the 41st U.S. President).
In the entertainment industry, this can manifest itself as calling a movie "Part 1" after sequels are released or by slightly altering the title (e.g., Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope or Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) to emphasize its connection with the sequel(s), or by referring to a television series as "the original", as in Star Trek: The Original Series.
The earliest razors with encased blades were called "safety razors" to distinguish them from what were then just called "razors". But the safety razor has since become the standard and the original razor generally called a "straight razor".
The first bicycles with two wheels of equal size were called "safety bicycles" because they were easier to handle than the then-dominant style that had one large wheel and one small wheel, which then became known as an "ordinary" bicycle. Since the end of the 19th century, most bicycles have been expected to have two equal sized wheels, and the other type has been renamed "penny-farthing" or "high-wheeler" bicycle.
The original 2001 Xbox console was often referred to informally as the "Xbox one" after the Xbox 360 was released in 2005, to distinguish it from its successor. However, when the next-generation Xbox One was released in 2013, this retronym was no longer applicable; it is now called just the "original Xbox" when disambiguation is needed.
With the increasing legalization of same-sex marriage (or "gay marriage"), beginning in the Netherlands in 2001, terms such as "opposite-sex marriage", "straight marriage", and "heterosexual marriage" arose to distinguish a set of unions which the term "marriage" had previously meant by default.
In Judaism, the Hebrew Bible is referred to as the Tanakh, an acronym for its three sections (the Torah or Pentateuch, the Nevi'im or Prophets, and the Ketuvim or Writings). In Christianity, the Bible includes an additional section, the New Testament, calling the Hebrew Bible the "Old Testament."
The original use of an adjective to describe a particular variant of an object is typically compositional, as in "acoustic guitar", but gradually over time it becomes a collocation, a name or technical term in its own right with additional nuances, greater specificity, and general but implicit agreement on it as the appropriate term versus alternative descriptions of the original.
The main exceptions to this relate to ownership, such as a trademark owner adding words to an existing product name or brand to create differentiated names for new variants of a product, which thus enjoy the status of a name immediately upon release of the product range.
In some instances back-formation can be a type of retronymy; for example, humans have always diagnosed diseases (to whatever limited extent that they understood physiology and medicine in each era), but the verb to diagnose as a back-formation from the noun diagnosis was not attested in written English until about 1859. It was thus a new name for an old action.
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