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 The interview aired on Outside The Lines, focusing on the incident and its aftermath. Dan Labbe, cleveland, "The Myles Garrett-Mason Rudolph incident isn’t going away anytime soon: Takeaways from Saturday’s ESPN interview," 15 Feb. 2020 Endless films and books have dealt with the nuclear apocalypse and its aftermath, but what would a nuclear apocalypse really look like? Fox News, "What happens in a nuclear apocalypse?," 13 Feb. 2020 Such is the impact that these two men had on the Revolutionary War and its aftermath. David Holahan, USA TODAY, "Review: 'Franklin & Washington' an engaging history of the duo that launched America," 12 Feb. 2020 That day and its aftermath have delivered a recent crush of content: Four feature-length documentaries are now in the unique position of competing for eyeballs and attention amid a nationwide gun-violence epidemic. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Parkland Shootings Spark 4 New Feature-Length Documentaries," 12 Feb. 2020 Players and coaches were visibly shaken up as a result of the incident and the atmosphere in the arena was extremely still in its aftermath, Blackburn says. CBS News, "St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester has cardiac incident during game, collapses on bench," 12 Feb. 2020 As a division of the Investigative Projects Unit, the Law & Justice Unit also contributed to the network's coverage of Sept. 11 and its aftermath, the Columbia shuttle accident, and other major news stories, such as the Iraq war. ABC News, "Learn About Internships Available at ABC News," 11 Feb. 2020 Most Millennials entered the workforce at the height of an economic recession or at least its immediate aftermath. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, "Millennial Burnout Is Very Real — and There Are Simple Things Employers Can Do to Help," 10 Feb. 2020 Douglas also remained a colorful and outspoken figure, even after a 1996 stroke impaired his speech -- mounting a one-man show in its aftermath. Brian Lowry, CNN, "Kirk Douglas, acclaimed actor, dead at 103," 5 Feb. 2020

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

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aftermath.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for aftermath


How to pronounce aftermath (audio)

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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