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Antediluvian

Definition: Literally this adjective means “before the flood”.  Metaphorically it refers to a person or thing that is so old it has been around since the time of the flood or Noah’s Ark.  In other words, it refers to something extremely outdated.

Pronunciation: an-tee-di-loo-vee-an

Origin:

This word is a compound of two Latin words.  “Ante” means before, and “diluvian” is from “diluvium” which means flood.  It was a word created by English physician Sir Thomas Browne in the 1680’s.

 Why this word?

In a culture where so much emphasis is placed on the latest, newest item or fad, it can be important to take a moment to remember the importance of history.  Newer does not always mean better, but older doesn’t always mean better either.  The word antediluvian reflects those aspects of history that it might be better to leave behind rather than to preserve, much as the Flood wiped out the parts of the earth that God did not deem worthy of preservation in the story of Noah’s Ark.  A prime example of this for me would be antediluvian notions about gender and racial equality.

 

How to use the word antediluvian?

Antediluvian is an adjective describing something very old or outdated.

“Mom, there is no way I’m wearing that dress.  It’s so antediluvian.”

“What is my teacher thinking?  His ideas are so antediluvian (and so is he).”

“Uncle Jerry is so antediluvian.  He doesn’t even know how to use the computer.”

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Written by Kate Fulton

Kate Fulton has a bachelor’s degree in classics and psychology from the University of Massachusetts and is working on a library science degree from Simmons College. She has always been fascinated by words- their usage, spelling, and etymology. Kate may be one of the few people who enjoyed the verbal section of the SAT. Yes, she is a word geek. Currently she bores her husband and young daughter with her love of vocabulary.

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