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 pluralprofessors emeriti

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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 The Zong case helped galvanize public opinion against the slave trade, according to James Walvin, emeritus professor of history at the University of York and author of a 2011 book on the case. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "The insurance case that helped end the slave trade," 19 June 2020 The board of 13 trustees and five of its emeritus trustees supported the name change, board member E. Smyth McKissick told the newspaper. Stephanie Toone, ajc, "Clemson removes name of slave owner from its honors college," 12 June 2020 Robert Cherny, an emeritus professor of history at San Francisco State University, said the decision to jettison the murals surprised him, especially since the school seemed enthusiastic about the artwork in the past. J.k. Dineen, SFChronicle.com, "UCSF New Deal murals could be destroyed," 12 June 2020 The Portland Trail Blazers announced Wednesday that founder and president emeritus Harry Glickman died today, June 10, 2020. oregonlive, "Trail Blazers’ founder Harry Glickman dies at 96," 11 June 2020 In Brazil Apart: 1964–2019, Perry Anderson, an emeritus professor of history and sociology at UCLA, positions himself squarely in the second camp. Larry Rohter, The New York Review of Books, "Brazil’s Dead End," 8 Apr. 2020 Alas, epidemiologists have been complaining about the safety studies for decades, according to Sander Greenland, an emeritus professor of epidemiology and statistics at UCLA. Charles C. Mann, The Atlantic, "Is There Still a Good Case for Water Fluoridation?," 17 Mar. 2020 Kent State emeritus professor Jerry Lewis, 82, was in the crowd that horrible, sunny day in May, serving as a faculty marshal. Bob Dyer, cincinnati.com, "Iconic image from Kent State shootings stokes the fires of anti-Vietnam War sentiment," 2 May 2020 Katsuhiro Miyamoto, an emeritus professor of sports economics at Kansai University, puts the costs as high as $4 billion. Stephen Wade, The Christian Science Monitor, "It's official: Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for July 2021," 30 Mar. 2020

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


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 entry 1

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The first known use of emeritus was circa 1701

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Cite this Entry

“Emeritus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emeritus. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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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

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Britannica English: Translation of emeritus for Arabic Speakers

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