af·​ter·​math | \ ˈaf-tər-ˌmath How to pronounce aftermath (audio) \

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 Many films by Black filmmakers and about Black stories have come out in the aftermath, primarily streaming or on demand in the wake of COVID but available to a larger audience. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "25 powerful movies to stream in honor of Black History Month, from 'Da 5 Bloods' to 'One Night in Miami'," 17 Feb. 2021 Five people died in a deadly clash, while two other lives were lost in the aftermath. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Graham threatens to call Democrats as witnesses during impeachment trial," 9 Feb. 2021 All these efforts failed, however, and in the aftermath, Ms. Cheshire broke her foot. New York Times, "Maxine Cheshire, Who Chronicled Beltway Scandals, Dies at 90," 8 Feb. 2021 Herb Jones missed a layup the first possession and then was blocked under the rim on the second trip, with the senior forward looking for a foul in the aftermath. Mike Rodak |, al, "Alabama’s wild late-game comeback falls short at Missouri for first SEC loss," 6 Feb. 2021 Blood was splattered on the pavement of the busy market amid piles of clothes and shoes as survivors took stock of the disarray in the aftermath. Star Tribune, "Twin suicide bombings rock central Baghdad, at least 32 dead," 21 Jan. 2021 In the aftermath, The FBI warned last week of the potential threat posed by right-wing extremists ahead of Biden’s inauguration. John Hilliard,, "McGovern worries Trump could pardon ‘domestic terrorists’ who stormed US Capitol," 17 Jan. 2021 In the aftermath, more than a third of governors called out the National Guard to help protect their capitols and assist local law enforcement. Alexei Koseff,, "All quiet at heavily fortified state Capitol in Sacramento — protests don’t materialize," 17 Jan. 2021 In the aftermath the FBI has arrested over a hundred people and says hundreds more are under investigation for taking part in the attack. Washington Post, "Two rioters claim Capitol officer told them, ‘It’s your house now,’ FBI says," 15 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for aftermath

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

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Last Updated

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Aftermath.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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 How to pronounce aftermath (audio) \

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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