Each week, “It’s not GREek!” will discuss a new word likely to appear on the GRE. We aim not only to give you a new word to memorize, but also to provide you with some background and etymological history to help you remember it. At the end of the post, we will also give you a sentence with a few other new words to add to your flash cards. By following this weekly series, you should be more prepared than ever to tackle the sentence completion, sentence equivalencies, and reading comprehension questions on test day.
This Week’s Word: Troglodyte
Has your inner logophile been searching for a more erudite word for “caveman”? Well, we have found you one. A troglodyte was originally a prehistoric cave-dweller. Today, the word has taken on the loser meaning of a primitive person unacquainted with the affairs of the world or someone living in seclusion.
Outside the world of humans, a troglodyte can be any number of creatures. A troglodyte can be any animal that lives underground, or the mighty race of humanoid monsters from the game Dungeons & Dragons. Troglodytes is also the technical scientific name for the common chimpanzee, as well as a genus of small birds.
So where did this multi-meaninged word originate? Like nearly every word in the English language, its origins can be traced to our favorite standbys, Latin and Greek. In Latin, troglodyta means “cave dwelling people” and in Greek, troglodutes means “one who dwells in holes.”
You know how “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” is a grammatically correct sentence? You can almost do the same with troglodyte:
The troglodyte trained troglodytes to destroy the nests of tasty troglodytes so they could feast on them for dinner.