Word: antediluvian

Pronunciation: an-tee-də-LOO-vee-ən

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: of or belonging to the time before the biblical Flood

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Here’s another word I discovered thanks to vocabulary flashcards. If you’ve ever stumbled across this word before, did you have any idea what it meant the first time you saw/heard it? I didn’t. In all fairness, I really think I could have figured it out if I’d just spent a little more time thinking about it. Impatient as I am, though, I just turned the card over. Funny how it hit me then that I probably don’t take enough advantage of being fluent in a Latin language, because I actually recognized the roots of the word after I learned what it meant.

Anything defined as “antediluvian” is older than the Deluge, i.e. the great flood from the story of Noah’s Ark. Sitting near the extreme of the “old” spectrum, this word is comprised of two Latin roots: the preposition ante “before” and the noun diluvium “flood”. The latter stems from the verb diluere, meaning “to wash away”.

Apparently, there are two good uses for the word “antediluvian”: a formal one and a comical one. While doing research on this word, I noticed it was often used in a historical sense (mostly in a now-outdated approach to geology) to refer to the period of time before the Deluge in the Bible. In humor, it’s used satirically to mean “ridiculously old-fashioned”. Having rarely seen this word myself, though, I’m really not sure how I would use it in my writing, or even if I would use it at all. Still, it’s definitely unusual and it has the potential to sound clever in whatever context you choose, so feel free to use it as you see fit. Just be careful not to make your writing style seem too “antediluvian”!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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