Pinnacle, n. The highest point. To literal usage, "the pinnacle of the
mountain" etc., has been added figurative usage, "the pinnacle of his
career" etc., to refer to the highest point which cannot get any
It is illuminating, in this case, to look at synonyms and antonyms.
The idea of a highest, crowning top point is expressed by a number of
synonyms, from apex to zenith. It is then perhaps all the more notable
that antonyms, expressing the concept of a sunken abyss from which it
is not possible to get lower, simply do not exist.
This fact is, in the view of this present lexicographer, not a
coincidence. Words appear in number, variety, and subtlety to suit the
needs of the people using them; hence the Eskimos have approximately
twenty different words referring to different kinds of snow, and we,
whose lives are not nearly so directly affected, have only made a
couple ('powder', 'slush'). Words are used to express concepts that
reflect people's thought, and there is perhaps very good reason that
we do not have any word to use for an (for lack of a better term)
On television, the Simpsons appeared as the anti-pinnacle of their
genre, a low point at which things simply cannot get any worse. Then
came Beavis and Butthead. Barney the Purple Dinosaur appeared as the
most annoying and distasteful anti-pinnacle of children's fads. Then
came the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
Dare we assume that it is impossible to get any worse than the view of
causality embodied in NBC's Dateline?
- -- Hayward's Unabridged Dictionary