1997 “As for the nefarious Libby--presented, with perfect appropriateness, only as others see and hear her--she rivals Lydia Gwilt of Wilkie Collins's Armadale as the pluperfect villainess, and the centerpiece of an enormously entertaining and satisfying reading experience.” – From Kirkus Review of The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr which is his sequel to The Alienist.
Pluperfect somehow slipped by me, for I don’t recall ever seeing or hearing it. I’ll include the grammatical meaning in passing – I get a headache just thinking about it. But the adjective is the one that seems most ‘popular,’ using that word loosely.
1) adjective: More than perfect; supremely accomplished; ideal; utterly perfect; faultless.
<“He has won a reputation as [a] pluperfect bureaucrat”>, <“He spoke the language with pluperfect precision.”>
2) noun: The pluperfect tense, formed in English with the past participle of a verb and the auxiliary had, as had learned in the sentence. He had learned to type by the end of the semester. Also called past perfect.
Etymology: Middle English ‘pluperfyth,’ alteration of Latin ‘plūs quam perfectum,’ more than perfect : ‘plūs,’ more; see ‘pelə-1’ in Indo-European roots + ‘quam,’ than + ‘perfectum,’ neuter past participle of ‘perficere,’ to complete.
(American Heritage Dictionary, Oxford English Dictionary)
The following are some quotes from the OED and archived sources:
________________________________<1831 “We are perfectly, and rather pluperfectly, passive.”—Biblical Repertory & Theological Review, October, page 496>
<1864 “The loyal element of my district has been heretofore unhappily divided into as many factions as there are tenses in the grammar. We have present, past, imperfect, perfect, and pluperfect loyalty.”— C. B. Fisk Letter. 25 June, in War of Rebellion (U.S. War Department.) (1891) 1st Series XXXIV. iv. page 552>
<1928 “Mrs. Fravalton, one of those mothers who believe their children pluperfect.”—Boy at the Bank I. v. page 49>
<1965 “It was a perfect, pluperfect, evening; absolutely clear and not a breath of wind.”—Diary of Noel Coward, 11 April (2000), page 597>
<1992 “While Johnny [Carson] may have been his own best guest, he was also the pluperfect guest.”—Newsweek, 25 May, page 97/2>
<2000 “The pleasure of living fully, including the alternative to unbutton and raise pluperfect hell.”—Play World by J. E. Combs, ii. page 61> [[Used as an intensifier]]
<2005 “A similar wise-innocent, Woods [[golfer, Tiger]] seems pluperfect heir to the fabled paragon Nicklaus [[golfer, Jack]].”—The Spectator (United Kingdom weekly), 30 July>
<2010 “Surely they wouldn't overlook Stone's [[filmmaker, Oliver]] noxious rant just because he is a pluperfect left-wing activist.”—Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), 4 August>
<2016 “. . . the visitors gasp and erupt into applause, solidifying a pluperfect moment likely to be remembered the rest of their lives.”—The Christian Science Monitor (Boston, Massachusetts), 24 July>
Ken Greenwald – February 24, 2017