1 : born after the death of the father
2 : published after the death of the author
3 : following or occurring after death
Did You Know?
The etymology of the word posthumous tells a complex story. In Latin, posterus is an adjective meaning “coming after” (from post, meaning “after”). The comparative form of posterus is posterior, and its superlative form is postumus, which means, among other things, “last.” Postumus had specific application in referring to the last of a man’s children, which in some cases meant those born after he had died. Latin speakers incorrectly identified the –umus in this word with humus, meaning “dirt” or “earth” (suggesting the ground in which the unfortunate father now lay). The Latin spelling became posthumus, as if the word were formed from post and humus, and both the “h” and the suggestion of “after burial” or “after death” carried over into English.
Published eleven years following his death in 1969, John Kennedy Toole’s novel A Confederacy of Dunces earned the author posthumous fame as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
“Sharon Jones may no longer be with us, but her legacy continues to endure in the form of posthumous releases. Daptone Records released a new Dusty Springfield cover from the upcoming Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings album, Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Rendition Was In.” — Emily Tan, Spin, 7 Oct. 2020