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 That's thanks in large part to its rapid response, world-class healthcare system, early travel ban and the decision to ramp up domestic face mask production -- several lessons learned in the aftermath of the 2003 SARS pandemic. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "Pro sports are coming back around the world. Does that mean there's a light at the end of the tunnel for the US?," 10 May 2020 Credit Suisse just replaced its CEO, though in the aftermath of a spying scandal. Patrick Winters,, "Ermotti’s Future Sealed as UBS CEO Becomes Swiss Re Chairman," 10 May 2020 The country singer shared photos of her property in the aftermath of the storm. Tierney Mcafee, Country Living, "Miranda Lambert Shares Photos of Major Storm Damage to Her Nashville Farm," 7 May 2020 In other words, some 20 months from now, unemployment may still be close to the peak reached in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The Economist, "Free exchange Why the unemployed in America could face a lost decade," 2 May 2020 In the aftermath of the war and the Spanish-flu pandemic, the owners limited the 1919 season to 140 games; the season started late to allow more players to return from military service. Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, "Baseball’s Longest Game, 100 Years Ago Today," 1 May 2020 In the aftermath of each of these outbreaks, WHO was sharply criticized for its early response. Andrew Lakoff, The Conversation, "Why the WHO, often under fire, has a tough balance to strike in its efforts to address health emergencies," 1 May 2020 Indeed, overall population growth in U.A.E. flattened in the aftermath of the 2008 recession and is now on the rise again. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "This Nation Is Building the World's Cheapest Solar Farm," 1 May 2020 How the moment lives on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Michael Hunt offered an interesting twist of prophecy in the aftermath of the deal, imagining a worst-case scenario from Sabathia's point of view. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "50 in 50: The Brewers land CC Sabathia in a blockbuster 2008 trade," 29 Apr. 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

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

14 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aftermath.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 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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