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

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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 Petrie repeatedly refers to Elefantin as an apparition, a revenant, an illusion. Washington Post, "With ‘Antiquities,’ Cynthia Ozick is as vibrant on the page as ever," 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, "The Designated Mourner," 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, "‘Wildlife’ Review: A Family’s Ardent, Troubled Heart," 18 Oct. 2018 The Earp homestead is built on a bedrock of ammonite, which acts as a powerful revenant repellant. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Wynonna Earp’s wild season 3 finale takes the series to a whole new level," 2 Oct. 2018 Its surface is torn, pitted and patched, the skin of a revenant. Laura Jacobs, WSJ, "‘Kimono Refashioned: 1870s-Now!’ Review: Unfolding a Garment’s Long History," 16 Oct. 2018 There’s no shortage of undead monsters, hulking trolls, poisonous revenants, and other foes attempting to thwart your mission along the way. Lisa Eadicicco, Time, "Review: The New ‘God of War’ Game Is Different, Bold and Demands Your Attention," 18 Apr. 2018 But in its best moments the piece conjures strange revenants from a still unquiet past. The New Yorker, "Drunken With What," 9 Jan. 2017 His most recent film, Crimson Peak (2015), is a Victorian ghost story, which suggests a certain gentility, but there’s nothing genteel about del Toro’s revenants, nothing wispy or discreet. Terrence Rafferty, The Atlantic, "The Master of Highbrow Horror," 11 Oct. 2016

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.

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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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Time Traveler for revenant

Time Traveler

The first known use of revenant was in 1818

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Statistics for revenant

Last Updated

27 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Revenant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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