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





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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

Marin Mazzie, a beloved stage actress who died of ovarian cancer last year, received a posthumous special Tony Award in recognition of her advocacy for women’s health. Michael Paulson, New York Times, "Who Won and What Happened at the 2019 Tony Awards," 9 June 2019 Fiction writer Elaine Ford died last fall at her home in Topsham, Maine, and a posthumous collection of her short stories, published in March, showcases a voice that is distinctly of Maine. Nina Maclaughlin,, "Graphic-novel history of America’s pastime; posthumous stories from Maine’s Elaine Ford," 4 May 2018 Hegel’s observations have in turn become central to French literary culture, yet Mr. Curran, for all his dexterity with publication history, doesn’t examine the posthumous fate of this masterpiece. Dan Hofstadter, WSJ, "‘Diderot’ Review: Wherever His Mind Led Him," 15 Feb. 2019 Folly of the Year Ellsworth Kelly got a posthumous chapel in Austin of his own design that cost $23 million. Mark Lamster, Curbed, "2018 in architecture: The good, the bad, and the urbanism," 27 Dec. 2018 Before the posthumous publication of Lucia Berlin’s collection of short stories, A Manual for Cleaning Women, in 2015, her son, Jeff Berlin, remembers being reminded to not to keep his hopes up. Bridget Read, Vogue, "How Lucia Berlin Became A Literary Superstar 11 Years After Her Death (And Is About to Publish A New Collection)," 5 Nov. 2018 This mysterious little snake has essentially made a posthumous case for the preservation of the remote highlands of western Chiapas where it was found. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Place to Find a Snake Is Inside a Different Snake," 21 Dec. 2018 Isaac, to keep his work from falling into the wrong hands, arranges the posthumous delivery to his granddaughter, Hazel, of the clues to solving his final equation revealing matters fundamental to human existence. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: Best of 2018," 7 Dec. 2018 Billboard reports that XXXTentacion and seven other artists have had posthumous No. Zoe Szathmary, Fox News, "Slain rapper XXXTentacion attends his own funeral in chilling new 'Sad!' music video," 28 June 2018

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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Statistics for posthumous

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for posthumous

The first known use of posthumous was in 1608

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More Definitions for posthumous



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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