Interesting Word for the Weekend: Skeuomorph

image by dave_7 via flickr

My friend Sean sent me info on this word not long ago. He thought I’d find it interesting and he was right.

A skeuomorph, according to Wikipedia, is “a physical ornament or design on an object made to resemble another material or technique.”

Another definition is “an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material.”

Examples might include wood-grain on laminate flooring (or on the panels of a station wagon), a weave-design on pottery (to look like a woven basket), or a keypad on a smart phone that looks like an old phone dial.

A skeuomorph is more than just a decorative feature. It’s a decorative feature that has no practical purpose yet evokes comfortable familiarity with once-used features. The shutter-click sound on digital cameras, the old-fashioned bell ring-tone on digital phones and the typewriter click sound on digital keyboards are all examples.

I can’t think of any particular significance to this word. I just like becoming conscious of a concept that is right in front of my face, yet I never noticed. And learning that it has a name. Know what I mean?

About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

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