One of the problems with the continued devolution (u kno wht i mean) of the English language is that we have lost our touch for awesome and clever insults. Rather than relying upon carefully crafted vituperates, most people express themselves with simple, cheap put-downs. Instead of “quiet, you feeble-minded imbecile,” we usually settle with phrases like “he dumb,” or “you dumb,” or “hey dummy, you stupid.” A larger vocabulary will not only help you ace the GRE Verbal Reasoning and Text Completion section, but may also reverse this recent societal trend… besides, the satisfaction you receive from insulting your myriad acquaintances will be doubled by the fact that, by using your newly expanded GRE vocabulary, they probably won’t have any idea they’ve been insulted until you are walking away.
So… let’s start with a classic putdown, “You are old.”
We have all heard of The Flood, “the universal deluge recorded as having occurred in the days of Noah,” but many of us are less acquainted with the history of the world prior to that torrential downpour. Antediluvian literally translates to “before the deluge”, and wild theories persist today concerning antediluvian civilizations and what they may have done to cause The Flood (this article posits that God had to send The Flood to thwart the Babylonians’ nuclear ambitions). Though the literal connotation associated with the word antediluvian has weakened over time (today, the word is more closely associated with being old-fashioned), as an interesting insult antediluvian is the perfect word to help an older foe or friend feel their age. Shall we use it in a sentence?
“That antediluvian hag next door hates my rock and roll lifestyle.”
“Which of you hate-mongering antediluvians wrote ‘You’re too old to dress like that!’ on my door?”
(Or, more seriously) “Partisan Congressional politics exemplify the antediluvian nature of America’s two-party system.”
In addition to being a fun word to tease your older brother or sister with, antediluvian serves as a useful vocabulary lesson for students preparing to take the GRE. The lesson behind this word can actually be found in front of it, in its prefix ante-. “Ante-” means before in time or position to, previous to, and in front of. Other GRE words with “ante-” include antebellum, antecedent, and antepenultimate. Notice that each one of these words refers, in some way, to coming before something else; so, in the future, if you see the prefix “ante-” but don’t recognize the base or root word to which it is attached, you should at least be able to make an educated guess.
This concludes the first entry of what will be a series of outrageous and (hopefully) creative insults. Check back soon to see our next installment!