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

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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 Huggins could defer his term of emeritus status and continue to serve as West Virginia head coach beyond 2021-22 with a mutual agreement between Huggins and WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons. Keith Jenkins, The Enquirer, 16 June 2021 Roger Goldman, an emeritus law professor at Saint Louis University who studies police certification, said involving the community in licensing oversight is becoming more typical. Alexei Koseff, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 June 2021 Papenfuse, Van Morgan, and their co-authors, Samuel B. Hopkins, a retired lawyer and descendant of the founder’s brother, and Stan Becker, an emeritus professor of public health, do not dispute those findings. Jonathan M. Pitts, baltimoresun.com, 3 June 2021 The organization also announced David Hunter, attorney for Brouse McDowell, and Donald Luscher, director of Regional Development at University Hospitals of Cleveland, have been given emeritus status. Marc Bona, cleveland, 5 May 2021 In December 2020, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium paid tribute to the director emeritus with a top 10 moments video — featuring in part his inclusion on PEOPLE's Most Beautiful list in the 1990s. Kate Hogan, PEOPLE.com, 9 Apr. 2021 Board members Anne Fredericks, Mary Ann Gorlin, Julie Rothstein, Suzanne Shank, Carol Walters and Celeste Watkins-Hayes resigned along with emeritus director Marc Schwartz. Isabelle Bousquette, Detroit Free Press, 30 Mar. 2021 Boston Court, wisely not wanting to let him out of the fold, had given him an emeritus title. Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2021 That may be the population that was likely to start smoking anyway, says Ken Warner, an emeritus dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health who was not involved in the study. Sara Harrison, Wired, 20 Jan. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of emeritus


1692, in the meaning defined above


1693, 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 entry 1

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The first known use of emeritus was in 1692

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Cite this Entry

“Emeritus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emeritus. Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.

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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


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