While running today, I thought that the song I was listening to in the moment perhaps wasn’t best suited to being on my running playlist, because it had a long, quiet outro. Then I thought, Outro? Now that’s…
Yes, you guessed it, that’s an interesting word. Of course it is, they all are! It is though. First of all, defining it is pretty straightforward. It’s the final, distinct, usually instrumental section of a song. You know, the opposite of the intro.
And of course that’s basically the etymology of the word. The intro is the opening part of a song, that leads you in, and the outro is the last part that leads you back out. In/out. Obviously, outro is a neologism, a fairly newly- and consciously-created word. It’s also a retronym, in a sense, as the musical term coda has basically the same meaning, but outro came about as intro became commonly used in English. But if you start to think about the word a bit, it starts to seem a bit strange.
Outro being the opposite of intro feels quite logical. But consider the fact that intro is an abbrevation of introduction. Outro though, obviously isn’t an abbreviation of outroduction. Because outroduction isn’t a word (I checked). Even considering the out- in outro as the opposite of in- in intro isn’t strictly logical, linguistically. The intro- part of introduction comes from the whole Latin unit intro-, which meant in or inside. So the concept of in is part of the word introduction, but that’s embodied by intro- as a single unit. The in- part of intro- doesn’t mean in: the whole of intro- does.
So it doesn’t really make much sense linguistically, but you know what? I’m fine with it. It makes sense, and it fills a niche (yes, coda exists, but most people aren’t familiar with it). It feels right, so go ahead and use it. Just don’t put any songs with long outros on my running playlist.