af·​ter·​math ˈaf-tər-ˌmath How to pronounce aftermath (audio)
: a second-growth crop

called also rowen

: consequence, result
stricken with guilt as an aftermath of the accident
: the period immediately following a usually ruinous event
in the aftermath of the war

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Breaking Down Aftermath

At first glance, one might calculate aftermath to be closely related to mathematics and its cropped form math. But the math of mathematics (which came to English ultimately from Greek) and the math of aftermath grew from different roots. Aftermath dates to the late 1400s and was originally an agricultural term, an offshoot of the ancient word math, meaning “a mowing.” The original aftermath came, of course, after the math: it was historically the crop cut, grazed, or plowed under after the first crop of the season from the same soil. (Math is still used in some parts of the United Kingdom to refer to a mowing of a grass or hay crop, as well as to the crop that is mowed.) It wasn’t until the mid-1600s that aftermath came to have the meanings now familiar to us, referring to the period of time following a destructive event, or to a negative consequence or result.

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 aftermath of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, both Facebook and Twitter decided to suspend lame-duck President Donald Trump from their platforms. Caroline Mimbs Nyce, The Atlantic, 30 Sep. 2023 Microsoft in particular has come under fire in the aftermath of an espionage operation attributed to the Chinese government that gave hackers unfettered access to the email accounts of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, State Department officials and others this summer. Joseph Menn, Washington Post, 28 Sep. 2023 In the aftermath of those hurricanes have risen big, boxy homes on stilts, with sturdy materials that adhere to more stringent building codes. Patricia Mazzei, New York Times, 28 Sep. 2023 The latest letter grades applied to schools come in the aftermath of lawmakers passing the LEARNS Act or Act 237 of 2023. Cynthia Howell, Arkansas Online, 28 Sep. 2023 In the aftermath of autofiction, readers are more comfortable with experimental form and granular, knotted truths. Lauren Leblanc, Los Angeles Times, 28 Sep. 2023 In the aftermath of Victoria’s death, being a wife and mother has taken on new meaning for Angela. Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal, Parents, 26 Sep. 2023 Trump was referring to two phone calls Milley made to Beijing, one during Trump’s last months in office and the second in the aftermath of the January 6 riot. Tori Otten, The New Republic, 25 Sep. 2023 In the early aftermath of the fire, the county used his mapping tool to identify streets, clusters of homes, and subdivisions where residents might lack the means to recover quickly, Dr. Chinowsky says. Elizabeth Shogren, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'aftermath.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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"

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near aftermath

Cite this Entry

“Aftermath.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


af·​ter·​math ˈaf-tər-ˌmath How to pronounce aftermath (audio)
: result entry 2 sense 1, consequence
felt tired as an aftermath of the race
: the period immediately following a usually destructive event
the aftermath of war

Old English mæth "mowing," from māwan "to mow"

Word Origin
The second part of aftermath comes from the Old English word mæth, meaning "the result of a mowing or harvesting," that is, a crop. This word was derived from the Old English verb māwan, which survives today as our modern English mow. During a good growing season in England, a second and sometimes a third crop of hay could be grown after the first mowing. When this crop was cut, it was the aftermath. Since the 17th century, the meaning of aftermath has broadened to include all kinds of results, not just those of a second mowing.

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