Sometimes it is Greek: Concatenation

A Concatenation of Unfortunate Events = Lemony Snicket for vocabulary gurus

Each week, “It’s not GREek!” will discuss and define 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:  Concatenation

A concatenation is a series of interconnected events or concepts, or the act of linking together, a chain or succession.  Concatenations are also frequently found in the world of computers; for computer programmers, a concatenation is the operation of joining two character strings.

The etymology of concatenation is Latin, from concatenare (to link together).  Broken down further, the prefix “com” means together and “catena” means a chain.

Let’s reflect, for instance, on the concatenation that led to the catastrophic World War I.  Long-term imperialistic foreign policies led to discontent throughout Europe.  Alliances were formed, and when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, many of these alliances were invoked.  Within just a few weeks, major powers were at war.  This quickly spread and boom! World War I happened.

On a less cataclysmic note, most subjects in school are taught as concatenations.  In math, for example, you must learn your numbers, then how to add and subtract, then to multiply and divide, then to do basic algebraic equations all before you can even begin to think about calculus.  Geometric proofs are another process requiring concatenations; in this case, you are creating the chain of events that proves the geometric concept in question.

Sample Sentence:

Conspirators contrived covert covenants to create a concatenation culminating in catastrophe.

Miss last week’s “Sometimes it is Greek?” Check it out here.  Want more GRE vocabulary? Click here for the free TestMasters GRE vocabulary list with over 2,000 words!

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