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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Did You Know?

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 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, "Virus Spread by Shrews Linked to Human Deaths from Mysterious Brain Infections," 8 Jan. 2020 Although treatments for these disorders remain elusive, postmortem brain tissue offers a key resource for unlocking possible solutions. Emily Toomey, Smithsonian, "Inside a Brain Bank, Where Humans’ Most Precious Organ Is Dissected and Studied," 21 Aug. 2019 In addition to studying postmortem tissue, imaging methods like MRIs offer alternative tools for investigating neurological conditions. Emily Toomey, Smithsonian, "Inside a Brain Bank, Where Humans’ Most Precious Organ Is Dissected and Studied," 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, "Feeding the gods: Hundreds of skulls reveal massive scale of human sacrifice in Aztec capital," 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, "Major finding in human anatomy has implications for many brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s," 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, "When scientists saw the mouse heads glowing, they knew the discovery was big," 21 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Researchers evaluated the cardiac tissue of 39 people in Germany who had recently died from COVID-19 and were diagnosed with the virus postmortem. Maggie O'neill,, "Does COVID-19 Cause Heart Damage? A Cardiologist Explains the New Research," 29 July 2020 Rather, butterfly farms simply sell their butterflies postmortem, usually off the enclosure floors after the insects die. René A. Guzman,, "Butterflies lives are short, but they can be preserved for decades in works of art," 30 June 2020 But the season postmortem once again points to futility, instability and uncertainty. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers using NBA’s slight as added motivation, believe playoffs are realistic expectation," 9 June 2020 Whittier’s family prior to his death and postmortem CTE diagnosis filed a federal court suit on his behalf that was rolled into a multi-district case being heard in Illinois. David Barron,, "Family of UT pioneer Julius Whittier sues NCAA over head trauma," 30 June 2020 Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, Howard was asked in 2017 by the Senate Intelligence Committee to conduct a postmortem on the social media activities of the Russian Internet Research Agency. Aziz Huq, Washington Post, "Political lies aren’t new, but the methods of spreading them are," 25 June 2020 Initially health officials thought the first U.S. death from coronavirus occurred Feb. 28 in the Seattle area, but postmortem examinations in April revealed deaths began earlier that month in Santa Clara County, California. Robert Higgs, cleveland, "U.S. coronavirus death toll surpasses American military casualties from World War I," 17 June 2020 Hennepin County, Minnesota, medical examiners officially ruled George Floyd’s death a homicide in a postmortem report released Monday evening. Anchorage Daily News, "Floyd died by homicide, medical examiner says," 1 June 2020 The first physician to definitively distinguish the two diseases, on the basis of firsthand pre- and postmortem observations, was American doctor William Wood Gerhard. Timothy Kent Holliday, Smithsonian Magazine, "What an 1836 Typhus Outbreak Taught the Medical World About Epidemics," 21 Apr. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of postmortem was in 1824

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Statistics for postmortem

Cite this Entry

“Postmortem.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for postmortem


How to pronounce postmortem (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of postmortem

 (Entry 1 of 2)

medical : happening after death



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

medical : an examination of a dead body to find out the cause of death
: 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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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for postmortem

Spanish Central: Translation of postmortem Encyclopedia article about postmortem

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