Definition of posthumous
- posthumous fame
She received a posthumous award for her life of philanthropy.
the soldier was awarded a posthumous medal for valor
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'posthumous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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.
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