Sometimes it is Greek: Conflagration

A photograph of a California wildfire, taken by an employee of the US Bureau of Land Management (2009).

A photograph of a California wildfire, taken by an employee of the US Bureau of Land Management (2009).

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: Conflagration

A conflagration is a large, destructive fire. Conflagration is descended directly from the Latin conflagrationem, a combination of the intensive prefix com- + flargrare, which translates as “to burn.”

Intensive prefixes are used to indicate a stronger or more forceful action relative to the stem word; in this case, a conflagration is not just a fire but a BIG, destructive, and extensive fire. A fire that decimates dozens or hundreds of acres, for example, could be called a conflagration.

Sample Sentence:

California’s catastrophic conflagrations caused calamitous chaos.

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

 

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