Word of the Day : November 29, 2015


adjective ih-MEH-ruh-tus


1 : holding after retirement an honorary title corresponding to that held last during active service

2 : retired from an office or position — converted to emeriti after a plural

Did You Know?

The adjective emeritus is unusual in two ways: it's frequently used postpositively (that is, after the noun it modifies), and it has a plural form—emeriti—when it modifies a plural noun in its second sense. If you've surmised from these qualities that the word is Latin in origin, you are correct. Emeritus, which is the Latin past participle of the verb emereri, meaning "to serve out one's term," was originally used to describe soldiers who had completed their duty. (Emereri is from the prefix e-, meaning "out," and merēre, meaning "to earn, deserve, or serve"—also the source of our English word merit.) By the early 18th century, English speakers were using emeritus as an adjective to refer to professors who had retired from office. The word eventually came to be applied to other professions where a retired member may continue to hold a title in an honorary capacity.


A letter decrying cuts in staffing at the university was signed by 42 professors emeriti.

"Additional members were named at the annual meeting to the 2015-16 board of directors, which now includes 22 members and four directors emeriti." — Jenn Smith, The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, Massachusetts), 28 Sept. 2015

Test Your Memory

What former Word of the Day begins with "s" and refers to a job that requires little or no work and that usually provides an income?



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