rev·​e·​nant | \ ˈre-və-nənt How to pronounce revenant (audio) , -ˌnäⁿ How to pronounce revenant (audio) \

Definition of revenant

: one that returns after death or a long absence

Other Words from revenant

revenant adjective

What is a revenant?

For much of 2016, revenant was among our top lookups, doubtless because it was prominently featured in the title of a movie (The Revenant) released in 2015. Outside of contemporary cinema, revenant is encountered rarely, and it appears likely that many users who were unfamiliar with the word wished to learn more about its meaning and perhaps where it came from. Denoting “one that returns after death or a long absence,” revenant is a borrowing from French that was originally formed from the present participle of the verb revenir ("to return"). It literally means “one coming back,” either from another place or from the dead.

Examples of revenant in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Shirking death, Mara returns as an undead revenant, a Strigoi. Jamie Lang, Variety, 17 Sep. 2021 Candyman’s curse, eventually taking on the revenant’s lingering wound and characteristic aura of swarming bees, harbingers of vengeance. Armond White, National Review, 1 Sep. 2021 Whether the subject is abuse or apartheid, an individual or a nation, Rose maintains that what’s hastily buried will rise up like a revenant. Christine Smallwood, The New York Review of Books, 6 July 2021 Yet nothing seems to work, and as the requests rampage, the fatal day returns to the song like a revenant, one more time. Sean Wilentz, The New York Review of Books, 19 June 2021 Petrie repeatedly refers to Elefantin as an apparition, a revenant, an illusion. Washington Post, 16 Apr. 2021 On the political level, the second part of the Biden plan—becoming president—has made him a revenant. Fintan O’toole, The New York Review of Books, 7 Jan. 2020 Gyllenhaal makes him a haunting, hollow-eyed revenant—he is changed in at least one respect, having learned all too well the fearsome power of fire. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 18 Oct. 2018 The Earp homestead is built on a bedrock of ammonite, which acts as a powerful revenant repellant. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 2 Oct. 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'revenant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of revenant

1818, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for revenant

French, from present participle of revenir to return

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The first known use of revenant was in 1818

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Cite this Entry

“Revenant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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