post·​mor·​tem | \ ˌpōs(t)-ˈmȯr-təm How to pronounce postmortem (audio) \

Definition of postmortem

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : done, occurring, or collected after death postmortem tissue specimens
2 : following the event



Definition of postmortem (Entry 2 of 2)

2 : an analysis or discussion of an event after it is over

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Synonyms & Antonyms for postmortem

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

  • antemortem
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Post mortem is Latin for "after death". In English, postmortem refers to an examination, investigation, or process that takes place after death. A postmortem examination of a body (often simply called a postmortem) is often needed to determine the time and cause of death; the stiffening called rigor mortis is one postmortem change that doctors look at to determine when death occurred. Today we've come to use postmortem to refer to any examination or discussion that takes place after an event.

Examples of postmortem in a Sentence

Adjective postmortem tests on the brain tissue of people who had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease Noun A postmortem showed that the man had been poisoned. Party leaders are conducting a postmortem of the election to try to find out what went wrong.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Another area ripe for new technology is postmortem facial reconstruction, used for identification purposes, which has traditionally been carried out by putting clay on skulls in a process known as forensic art. Rachel Pannett, WSJ, 30 Sep. 2020 Beer and his colleagues analyzed postmortem brain tissue from 56 patients in southeastern Germany’s state of Bavaria between 1999 and 2019. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, 8 Jan. 2020 Although treatments for these disorders remain elusive, postmortem brain tissue offers a key resource for unlocking possible solutions. Emily Toomey, Smithsonian, 21 Aug. 2019 In addition to studying postmortem tissue, imaging methods like MRIs offer alternative tools for investigating neurological conditions. Emily Toomey, Smithsonian, 21 Aug. 2019 Nearby, the researchers also found skulls apparently stuck together with mortar—remnants of one of the towers flanking the tzompantli, where most skulls once exhibited on its posts ended their postmortem journey. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, 21 June 2018 Last year, Jeff Iliff, a neuroscientist at Oregon Health & Science University, and several colleagues examined postmortem tissue from 79 human brains. The Washington Post, The Denver Post, 21 May 2017 Last year, Jeff Iliff, a neuroscientist at Oregon Health & Science University, and several colleagues examined postmortem tissue from 79 human brains. David Kohn, Washington Post, 21 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In a project postmortem, teams often look at what worked and what didn’t work. Janine Maclachlan, Forbes, 29 Aug. 2021 In the postmortem analysis, policymakers took due note of this problem and proceeded not to do much about it. James Lardner, The New Yorker, 30 July 2021 Dorrinson said that the entire Trump team would be conducting a postmortem of the rally to find out why attendees were able to leave the event without incident. Andy Borowit, The New Yorker, 28 June 2021 The particulars of the killing—an abduction, shooting, strangling and postmortem hanging—are sordid. John Anderson, WSJ, 8 Apr. 2021 Most of the postmortem draft analysis has centered around the trade swapping Doncic and Young, but the Suns’ choice of Ayton has remained a casual what-if whisper. ... Joe Freeman, oregonlive, 23 June 2021 In the postmortem on small businesses that didn’t make it, cash flow is overwhelmingly listed as the cause of death. Tony Ward, Forbes, 18 June 2021 However, the hole in the skull could have also been made postmortem as a type of ritual practice. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 June 2021 The Democratic postmortem seems to confirm Mr. Gonzalez’s read. William Mcgurn, WSJ, 7 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'postmortem.' 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 postmortem


1824, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1838, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for postmortem


Latin post mortem after death

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Time Traveler for postmortem

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The first known use of postmortem was in 1824

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Dictionary Entries Near postmortem



postmortem dividend

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Cite this Entry

“Postmortem.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for postmortem



English Language Learners Definition of postmortem

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: happening after death



English Language Learners Definition of postmortem (Entry 2 of 2)

: an examination of a dead body to find out the cause of death : autopsy
: a discussion or analysis of something (such as an event) after it has ended


post·​mor·​tem | \ (ˈ)pōst-ˈmȯrt-əm How to pronounce postmortem (audio) \

Medical Definition of postmortem

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: done, occurring, or collected after death postmortem tissue specimens



Medical Definition of postmortem (Entry 2 of 3)



Medical Definition of post-mortem (Entry 3 of 3)

: after death seven cases examined post-mortem

post mortem

post mor·​tem | \ ˌpōst-ˈmȯr-təm \

Legal Definition of post mortem

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: done, occurring, or collected after death

post mortem


Legal Definition of post mortem (Entry 2 of 2)

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