Sunday, January 16, 2011

The "Evolution" of Language

Ultimate – last, maximum, finest, not to be improved upon or surpassed

Penultimate – next to the last

Once upon a time, we had “ultimate”, “penultimate”, and a category known as “everything else”. Then, “everything else” started to get a bit crowded, and a new adjective was spawned:

Antepenultimate – third from the end

Okay, so there we had a 15 letter, six syllable word to use in place of a 15 letter, 4 syllable phrase that meant exactly the same thing. I guess that makes sense of a sort. The sort that comes in very handy when writing within specific word count limits. Just not the sort I choose to apply to my daily doings and about-townery.

Now it appears there are rumblings in certain circles to bring back into everyday use an obsolete little gem that takes this sort of sense just a bit further:

Preantepenultimate – fourth from the end

So keeping in mind that language is a fluid and constantly evolving thing, I just have one question:

Are you fucking serious?


  1. So that means that I drank the preantepenultimate beer, then the antepenultimate beer, then the penulitimate beer, all before drinking the last one? That makes it sound like a lot of work for an evening.

  2. But when put that way, I notice they did plan it pretty well, as the words do get progressively easier to pronounce as the beers go on. Maybe they're not as crazy as I thought.