Definition of posthumous
1 : born after the death of the father
2 : published after the death of the author
3 : following or occurring after death <posthumous fame>
Examples of posthumous in a sentence
She received a posthumous award for her life of philanthropy.
<the soldier was awarded a posthumous medal for valor>
Where Does posthumous Come From?
Readers who are looking for the origins of the word posthumous may be interested to know that it is an example of a folk etymology. A folk etymology involves the respelling or changing of an unfamiliar word (often one borrowed from another language) to make it resemble an unrelated but better-known word or words. The classic example in English is cockroach, which was formed by substituting the English words cock (the name of a bird) and roach (the name of a fish) for the similar-sounding but totally unrelated Spanish word for a bug, cucaracha.
Posthumous comes from the Latin posthumus, which is itself an alteration of postumus ("born after the father's death"). It is thought that the word humus (meaning "dirt, earth" in Latin) was substituted for -umus in the mistaken belief that the word's final element had something to do with the soil in a grave.
Origin and Etymology of posthumous
Latin posthumus, alteration of postumus late-born, posthumous, from superlative of posterus coming after — more at posterior
First Known Use: 1608
POSTHUMOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of posthumous for English Language Learners
: happening, done, or published after someone's death
Medical Definition of posthumous
1: born after the death of the father
2: following or occurring after death
Seen and Heard
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