post·​hu·​mous | \ ˈpäs-chə-məs How to pronounce posthumous (audio) also -tə-, -tyə-, -thə-; päst-ˈhyü-məs, ˈpōst-, -ˈyü- How to pronounce posthumous (audio) \

Definition of posthumous

1 : born after the death of the father
2 : published after the death of the author
3 : following or occurring after death posthumous fame

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Other Words from posthumous

posthumousness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for posthumous



  • antemortem
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Where does posthumous come from?

Readers who are looking for the origins of the word posthumous may be interested to know that it is an example of a folk etymology. A folk etymology involves the respelling or changing of an unfamiliar word (often one borrowed from another language) to make it resemble an unrelated but better-known word or words. The classic example in English is cockroach, which was formed by substituting the English words cock (the name of a bird) and roach (the name of a fish) for the similar-sounding but totally unrelated Spanish word for a bug, cucaracha.
Posthumous comes from the Latin posthumus, which is itself an alteration of postumus ("born after the father's death"). It is thought that the word humus (meaning "dirt, earth" in Latin) was substituted for -umus in the mistaken belief that the word's final element had something to do with the soil in a grave.

Examples of posthumous in a Sentence

She received a posthumous award for her life of philanthropy. the soldier was awarded a posthumous medal for valor
Recent Examples on the Web Aaliyah could pull off a sci-fi–heroine look, then glam it up with a crystal choker accentuated by full-face makeup—the latter of which would inspire a posthumous MAC Cosmetics collection in 2018. Julian Kimble, Essence, 25 Aug. 2021 Still unreleased is a posthumous collection, executive produced by Drake and featuring cameos from him, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and others, that Hankerson has been trying to release for nearly a decade. Alex Gonzalez, Variety, 20 Aug. 2021 Circles, Mac Miller’s posthumous final album, was released in January 2020, completed by producer and collaborator Jon Brion. Zoe Haylock, Vulture, 15 Sep. 2021 Hankerson has promised a posthumous album of unheard music down the road, too. Washington Post, 20 Aug. 2021 Hankerson also tried to release a posthumous Aaliyah album produced by Drake in 2012. Jessica Ourisman, Harper's BAZAAR, 12 Aug. 2021 The song is off the late rapper's second posthumous album, Faith, which like its predecessor, topped the Billboard 200 chart. Billboard Staff, Billboard, 30 July 2021 The tribute will also include new tracks from the artist's posthumous album, Exodus. Rachel Yang,, 28 June 2021 The track will appear on the upcoming posthumous Allen record, There Is No End, out April 30th. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 9 Apr. 2021

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

1608, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for posthumous

Latin posthumus, alteration of postumus late-born, posthumous, from superlative of posterus coming after — more at posterior

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The first known use of posthumous was in 1608

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Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Posthumous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for posthumous



English Language Learners Definition of posthumous

: happening, done, or published after someone's death


post·​hu·​mous | \ ˈpäs-chə-məs also -t(y)ə- \

Medical Definition of posthumous

1 : born after the death of the father
2 : following or occurring after death

Other Words from posthumous

posthumously adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on posthumous

Nglish: Translation of posthumous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of posthumous for Arabic Speakers


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