what does penultimate mean?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Our Buddy Ralph: [relating an anecdote from the biography of Bill Bowerman]...but all of this was before Prefontaine.

We: Pre-Prefontaine?

OBR: Before that even...

We: Pre-ante-Prefontaine?

OBR: What is that now?

We: Well, "penultimate" means "second to last, " right?

OBR: Yeah...

We: And "antepenultimate" means "third to last."

OBR: Okay...

We: And "preantepenultimate" means "fourth to last," so "preante-Prefontaine," would be "before the time before Prefontaine."

OBR: Wait...if the order of prefixes goes "pen, ante, then pre," shouldn't that be "antepen-Prefontaine"?

We: Yeah, but "preante-Prefontaine" sounds spiffier.


OBR: So what's "fifth to last"?

We: No clue.