Sated bovines, verdant pastures, and uninterrupted tranquility…ah yes, we’ve arrived in the country. With the grinding hubbub of the city far removed, the countryside offers up numerous charms, and GRE vocabulary.
This is always a misleading word. Many imagine medieval peasants afflicted with the plague…that, however, would be the bubonic, not the bucolic plague. ‘Bucolic’ does very little plaguing, as it were. Indeed, it describes the pleasant aspects of the countryside: contented cows, an unhurried pace of life, and low rolling hills.
This word is misleading too. Of course you are probably not thinking medieval peasants this time around but rusted farm equipment, if you are guessing this word relates to rural life. ‘Rustic’, however, is no different than ‘bucolic’, in that it describes pleasing aspects of the countryside. At this point, I could continue to riff on happy cows and languorous piglets…but I think you get the point.
Yet another pleasant word in the vocabulary arsenal to deploy when you want to wow someone, say if you are driving through the country. ‘Pastoral’ has a slightly different usage, though. In music and art, ‘pastoral’ is used to describe works that evoke the countryside. For instance, Beethoven’s sixth symphony was called the Pastoral Symphony, because—and hopefully I’m not making too much of stretch here—it reminded people (or at least Ludwig) of the countryside.
I know you’ve probably had your fill of bucolic backdrops. So, it’s time for some negativity (hmm…I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about negative connotations). Anyhow, ‘provincial’ is an important GRE word. It not only means relating to the provinces, a meaning that is innocuous enough, but also to those who are narrow-minded.
The implication is that those who spend their time in the countryside have limited exposure to the world, and thus have more backward views (at least from the vantage point of a supercilious urbanite).
This word does not only describe the countryside, but also any area that is far, far away from, well, anything else. Once you’ve left the cows far behind, and the farm land has given way to untamed swathes of land…you’ve reached the hinterlands. A synonym, and a word with a slightly pejorative connotation, is backwater.