be·​lat·​ed bi-ˈlā-təd How to pronounce belated (audio)
: delayed beyond the usual time
One of the men was belated and did not join us at all.William Pittenger
: existing or appearing past the normal or proper time
a belated birthday card
She received belated recognition for her work.
belatedly adverb
belatedness noun

Did you know?

Don't worry about being late to the party if you don't know the history of belated; you're right on time. Long ago, there was a verb belate, which meant "to make late." From the beginning, belate tended to mostly turn up in the form of its past participle, belated. When used as an adjective, belated originally meant "overtaken by night," as in "belated travelers seeking lodging for the night." This sense did not overstay its welcome; it was eventually overtaken by the "delayed" meaning we know today. As you may have guessed, belate and its descendant belated derive from the adjective late; belate was formed by simply combining the prefix be- ("to cause to be") with late.

Examples of belated in a Sentence

She received belated recognition for her scientific discovery.
Recent Examples on the Web But a belated, uninspiring improvement is an improvement nonetheless. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, 2 Feb. 2024 The belated and awkward actions of the tech giant further damaged the company’s profile at time when China’s regulators were mounting a multi-pronged assault on the activities and business practices of the country’s leading tech firms. Patrick Frater, Variety, 23 June 2022 At the same time, they were hardly shocked at Ye’s belated attempt to seize control of the project. Brian Hiatt, Rolling Stone, 1 Feb. 2022 Accounts of Tedros’s belated shift on China may be unlikely to win over his critics. Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2021 Nikole Hannah-Jones has rejected a contentious and belated offer of a tenured faculty p0sition at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and will join the faculty at Howard University instead. Michael T. Nietzel, Forbes, 6 July 2021 Nothing has reminded me of Russia quite so much as the Trump Administration’s belated effort to encourage Americans to vaccinate. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 15 Dec. 2020 Then my friend Karen and her daughter Sophia stopped by to bring me a belated birthday present. Karina Bland, azcentral, 25 Mar. 2020 There’s nothing any of us want more than to be talking about the return of the NBA, the NHL and the belated startup of the MLB season in July. Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas News, 11 May 2020

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

Word History


past participle of belate (to make late)

First Known Use

1670, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of belated was in 1670


Dictionary Entries Near belated

Cite this Entry

“Belated.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


be·​lat·​ed bi-ˈlāt-əd How to pronounce belated (audio)
: delayed beyond the usual time
belatedly adverb
belatedness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on belated

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