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emer·​i·​tus i-ˈmer-ə-təs How to pronounce emeritus (audio)
plural emeriti i-ˈmer-ə-ˌtī How to pronounce emeritus (audio)
: a person retired from professional life but permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of the last office held


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

Did you know?

In Latin, emeritus was used to describe soldiers who had completed their duty. It is the past participle of the verb emereri, meaning "to serve out one's term," from the prefix e-, meaning "out," and merēre, "to earn, deserve, or serve." (Merēre is also the source of our word merit.) English speakers claimed emeritus as their own in the late 17th century, applying it as both a noun and an adjective referring or relating not to soldiers but to someone who is retired from professional life but permitted to keep as an honorary title the rank of the last office they held. The adjective is frequently used postpositively—that is, after the noun it modifies rather than before it—and it is most commonly used to describe specifically those retired from a professorship.

Examples of emeritus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
In the 1980s educational psychologist Linda Siegel, now an emeritus professor at the University of British Columbia, began investigating some of these anecdotal suspicions. Sarah Carr, Scientific American, 16 Nov. 2023 Unionization has been and is key to transforming the economic prospects of Black workers without a college degree, said Steven Pitts, the emeritus associate chair at the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, 7 Oct. 2023 Lewis has been the emeritus chronicler of market mayhem in the United States for decades, starting with his semi-autobiographical 1989 debut about life on Wall Street in the ’80s, Liar’s Poker. Kate Knibbs, WIRED, 5 Oct. 2023 Snow, an emeritus general authority Seventy, and other locals are no less thrilled to see their landmark temple reopen. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 Sep. 2023 For the emeritus general authority, this is simply a project to promote patriotism. Peggy Fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 July 2023 He is survived by a half sister, Ursula W. Goodenough, and a half brother, Daniel A. Goodenough, both of whom are emeritus biology professors. Robert D. McFadden, New York Times, 26 June 2023 Hudson and Lomax also worked with geologist Dr. Mike Romano, an emeritus member of the faculty at the University of Sheffield, on the study. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 15 Feb. 2023 Francis is due to preside over the late German pope’s funeral on Thursday, an event that is drawing heads of state and royalty despite Benedict’s requests for simplicity and Vatican efforts to keep the first Vatican funeral for an emeritus pope in modern times low-key. Nicole Winfield, Chicago Tribune, 4 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History



Latin, past participle of emereri to serve out one's term, from e- + mereri, merēre to earn, deserve, serve — more at merit entry 1

First Known Use


1692, in the meaning defined above


1693, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of emeritus was in 1692


Dictionary Entries Near emeritus

Cite this Entry

“Emeritus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emeritus. Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: retired with an honorary title from an office or position
emeritus noun

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