af·ter·math | \ -ˌmath \

Definition of aftermath 

1 : a second-growth crop

called also rowen

2 : consequence, result stricken with guilt as an aftermath of the accident

3 : the period immediately following a usually ruinous event in the aftermath of the war

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Breaking Down aftermath

Aftermath dates to the late 1400s and was originally an agricultural term. Its two parts are transparent—but only if you're familiar with an ancient word math that is now used only in British dialectal English and that means "a mowing of a grass or hay crop" and also refers to the crop that is gathered. The original aftermath came, of course, after the math: it was historically the crop of (usually) grass cut, grazed, or plowed under after the first crop of the season from the same soil. It wasn't until the mid-late 1600s that aftermath developed its other meanings, both of which are now far more common than the first.

Examples of aftermath in a Sentence

the surgery was successful, but she now had to deal with its aftermath: a huge bill

Recent Examples on the Web

In the chaotic aftermath, two state troopers also died and more people were injured. Annabelle Williams,, "Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, speaking in Philly, urges people to call out 'untruth, misinformation, and just plain BS'," 20 June 2018 Now Murphy was filming the aftermath of the crime, including a scene in which two lookie-loos dip a copy of Vanity Fair into the puddle of Versace’s blood. Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker, "How Ryan Murphy Became the Most Powerful Man in TV," 7 May 2018 Saoirse Ronan is describing the aftermath of her first acting job. Jamie Hawkesworth, Vogue, "Saoirse Ronan on Growing Up on Camera, the Changing Politics of Ireland, and Becoming a Queen," 11 July 2018 Photos posted to Twitter by the Montgomery County, Md., Fire and Rescue Service show the aftermath of a blaze caused by a fireworks mishap. Gary Gastelu, Fox News, "Authorities investigate Jeep Wrangler burned in fireworks fiasco," 10 July 2018 Chip Somodevilla Getty Images Despite the destruction, both Monroe County and the state seemed prepared to handle the aftermath. Jim Defede, miamiherald, "'Millions of dollars of wasteful spending.' A look at Gov. Scott's post-Irma debris deals," 29 June 2018 The second episode chronicles the aftermath of back-to-back setbacks to Wekiva and Apopka as the team recovers down the stretch. J.c. Carnahan,, "Dr. Phillips football state title run chronicled in video documentary," 29 June 2018 For the first time, astronomers have witnessed the aftermath of a black hole destroying a star. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Witness Aftermath of a Black Hole Destroying a Star," 15 June 2018 Cruz has had his own legal issues connected to the aftermath of the shooting. Eric Levenson, CNN, "Zachary Cruz says failure to stop Parkland shooting 'haunts me'," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aftermath.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of aftermath

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for aftermath

after- + math "mowing," going back to Middle English *math, going back to a short-vowel variant (perhaps of Germanic date) of Old English mǣþ, going back to Germanic *mēþa- (whence Old Saxon mād- —in māddag "mowing day"—, Old High German āmād "aftermath"), derivative with the nominal suffix *-to- from the base of *mēan- "to mow entry 2"

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Last Updated

4 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for aftermath

The first known use of aftermath was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for aftermath



English Language Learners Definition of aftermath

: the period of time after a bad and usually destructive event


af·ter·math | \ ˈaf-tər-ˌmath \

Kids Definition of aftermath

1 : a result or consequence She felt tired as an aftermath of the long race.

2 : the period of time following a bad and usually destructive event the aftermath of a hurricane

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the setting in which something occurs

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