post·​hu·​mous | \ ˈpäs-chə-məs How to pronounce posthumous (audio) also -tə-, -tyə-, -thə-; päst-ˈhyü-məs, ˈpōst-, -ˈyü- How to pronounce posthumous (audio) \

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

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Other Words from posthumous

posthumousness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for posthumous



  • antemortem
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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.

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
Recent Examples on the Web That list, which was announced in January, also includes Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers and three posthumous inductees — Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G. and T-Rex. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego’s Ilan Rubin will be youngest Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee ever as member of Nine Inch Nails," 4 Sep. 2020 First Class Alwyn Cashe’s posthumous Silver Star to a Medal of Honor, America’s highest award for combat valor. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "Joint Chiefs chairman rebuts Biden on role of military in the event of a disputed presidential election," 31 Aug. 2020 All three of her albums, which will hopefully be on streaming services soon, were certified double platinum, and her other accolades included a VMA, multiple Grammy nominations, and several posthumous American Music Awards wins. Lydia Wang,, "Aaliyah’s Music Will Finally Hit Streaming Services 19 Years After Her Tragic Death," 25 Aug. 2020 Actor Fred Willard and director Lynn Shelton, who died within a day of each other in May, each received a posthumous Emmy nomination. Andrew Dalton, Star Tribune, "Facts and Figures about the 72nd Emmy Awards nominations," 29 July 2020 Rustin’s posthumous pardon is largely thanks to the efforts of Scott Wiener, chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, and Shirley Weber, chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "Gay Civil Rights Leader Bayard Rustin Posthumously Pardoned in California," 6 Feb. 2020 Eminem released this posthumous collaboration with Juice WRLD as part of his surprise album in January. Benjamin Vanhoose,, "Taylor Swift! Lady Gaga! The Weeknd! Watch All the 2020 MTV VMAs Video of the Year Nominees," 28 Aug. 2020 Not coincidentally, Trump’s announcement of Anthony’s posthumous pardon—which was met with laughter—comes on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Emma Specter, Vogue, "Why Did Donald Trump Just Pardon Susan B. Anthony?," 18 Aug. 2020 The posthumous album was completed with the help of producer Jon Brion, who Miller had been working with prior to his death. Maria Pasquini,, "Mac Miller's Mother Shares Touching Video to Commemorate 10th Anniversary of His Mixtape K.I.D.S.," 13 Aug. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of posthumous

1608, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for posthumous

Latin posthumus, alteration of postumus late-born, posthumous, from superlative of posterus coming after — more at posterior

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Time Traveler for posthumous

Time Traveler

The first known use of posthumous was in 1608

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Statistics for posthumous

Last Updated

13 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Posthumous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for posthumous


How to pronounce posthumous (audio) How to pronounce posthumous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of posthumous

: happening, done, or published after someone's death


post·​hu·​mous | \ ˈpäs-chə-məs also -t(y)ə- \

Medical Definition of posthumous

1 : born after the death of the father
2 : following or occurring after death

Other Words from posthumous

posthumously adverb

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Comments on posthumous

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