Latin IS English!

March 25, 2008

A “Flood” of Words from Latin—Word of the Day: “antediluvian”

antediluvian.mp3

 

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for March 22, 2008 is: antediluvian • \an-tih-dih-LOO-vee-un\  • adjective 1 : of or relating to the period before the flood described in the Bible 2 a : made, evolved, or developed a long time ago *b : extremely primitive or outmoded
 
Example sentence:  The researchers argued that the lab’s equipment was antediluvian and long overdue for replacement.
 
Did you know? Before there was “antediluvian,” there were the Latin words “ante” (meaning “before”) and “diluvium” (meaning “flood”). As long ago as 1646, English speakers were using “antediluvian” to describe conditions they believed existed before the great flood described in the biblical account of Noah and the ark. By the early 1700s, the word had come to be used as both an adjective and a noun referring to anything or anyone prodigiously old. Charles Darwin used it to characterize the mighty “antediluvian trees” some prehistoric mammals might have used as a food source, and in hisAmerican Notes, Charles Dickens described an elderly lady who informed him, “It is an extremely proud and pleasant thing . . . to be an antediluvian.

 

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