emer·​i·​tus | \ i-ˈmer-ə-təs How to pronounce emeritus (audio) \
plural emeriti\ i-​ˈmer-​ə-​ˌtī How to pronounce emeriti (audio) , -​ˌtē \

Definition of emeritus

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person retired from professional life but permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of the last office held



Definition of emeritus (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : holding after retirement an honorary title corresponding to that held last during active service
2 : retired from an office or position professor emeritus converted to emeriti after a plural professors emeriti

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?


The adjective emeritus is unusual in two ways: it's frequently used postpositively (that is, after the noun it modifies), and it has a plural form—emeriti—when it modifies a plural noun in its second sense. If you've surmised from these qualities that the word is Latin in origin, you are correct. Emeritus, which is the Latin past participle of the verb emereri, meaning "to serve out one's term," was originally used to describe soldiers who had completed their duty. (Emereri is from the prefix e-, meaning "out," and merēre, meaning "to earn, deserve, or serve"—also the source of our English word merit.) By the early 18th century, English speakers were using emeritus as an adjective to refer to professors who had retired from office. The word eventually came to be applied to other professions where a retired member may continue to hold a title in an honorary capacity.

Examples of emeritus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Karen Uhlenbeck, 76, an emeritus professor at the University of Texas at Austin and current visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study, was honored with the Abel Prize for mathematics. Glamour, "Meet Karen Uhlenbeck, The First Woman to Ever Win the ‘Nobel Prize of Math’," 22 Mar. 2019 The method of the author, an emeritus professor at the University of California, Irvine, is at once modest and radical. Eric Ormsby, WSJ, "‘God in the Qur’an’ Review: Allah, a Biography," 16 Jan. 2019 The issue was reported in a briefing paper produced by a consultancy run by Carlyle Thayer, an expert on Southeast Asia and emeritus professor at Australia's University of New South Wales. Christopher Bodeen, Fox News, "Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea," 27 Aug. 2018 Randolph Henning Hokanson, 103, a pianist and emeritus professor at the University of Washington, died Oct. 18. Seattle Times Staff & News Services, The Seattle Times, "This week’s passages," 26 Oct. 2018 However, Thompson will continue to advise the company as emeritus CTO. Lilly Milman, Billboard, "Kobalt Music Appoints Rian Liebenberg as CTO, Richard Thompson Steps Down," 6 July 2018 His honorary title will be chairman emeritus, according to Starbucks. Zlati Meyer, USA TODAY, "Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz quits," 4 June 2018 Levine, who turns 75 next month, was the Met’s music director and/or artistic director from 1976 to 2016 before the shift to an emeritus position, and was also music director for the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 2004 to 2011. Ronald Blum, BostonGlobe.com, "Met says it has evidence Levine abused or harassed 7 people," 19 May 2018 Boulez assumed the title of emeritus conductor following Bernard Haitink’s becoming principal conductor in 2006. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "Honoring Pierre Boulez, the titan of modernism who opened the ears of Chicagoans to the music of our time," 15 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'emeritus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of emeritus


circa 1701, in the meaning defined above


1794, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for emeritus


Latin, past participle of emereri to serve out one's term, from e- + mereri, merēre to earn, deserve, serve — more at merit

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about emeritus

Listen to Our Podcast about emeritus

Dictionary Entries near emeritus








Statistics for emeritus

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for emeritus

The first known use of emeritus was circa 1701

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for emeritus



English Language Learners Definition of emeritus

: retired with an honorary title from an office or position especially in a university

More from Merriam-Webster on emeritus

Britannica English: Translation of emeritus for Arabic Speakers

Comments on emeritus

What made you want to look up emeritus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!