[af-ter, ahf-]
See more synonyms for after on
  1. behind in place or position; following behind: men lining up one after the other.
  2. later in time than; in succession to; at the close of: Tell me after supper. Day after day he came to work late.
  3. subsequent to and in consequence of: After what has happened, I can never return.
  4. below in rank or excellence; nearest to: Milton is usually placed after Shakespeare among English poets.
  5. in imitation of or in imitation of the style of: to make something after a model; fashioned after Raphael.
  6. in pursuit or search of; with or in desire for: I'm after a better job. Run after him!
  7. concerning; about: to inquire after a person.
  8. with the name of; for: He was named after his uncle.
  9. in proportion to; in accordance with: He was a man after the hopes and expectations of his father.
  10. according to the nature of; in conformity with; in agreement or unison with: He was a man after my own heart. He swore after the manner of his faith.
  11. subsequent to and notwithstanding; in spite of: After all their troubles, they still manage to be optimistic.
  1. behind; in the rear: Jill came tumbling after.
  2. later in time; afterward: three hours after; happily ever after.
  1. later in time; next; subsequent; succeeding: In after years we never heard from him.
  2. Nautical, Aeronautics.
    1. farther aft.
    2. located closest to the stern or tail; aftermost: after hold; after mast.
    3. including the stern or tail: the after part of a hull.
  1. subsequent to the time that: after the boys left.
  1. afters, British Informal. the final course of a meal, as pudding, ice cream, or the like; dessert.
  1. after all, despite what has occurred or been assumed previously; nevertheless: I've discovered I can attend the meeting after all.

Origin of after

before 900; Middle English; Old English æfter; cognate with Old Frisian efter, Old Saxon, Old High German after, Gothic aftaro, Old Norse eptir; equivalent to æf- (see aft1) + -ter suffix of comparison and polarity (cognate with Greek -teros)

Synonym study

1. See behind.


[aft, ahft]Nautical, Aeronautics
  1. at, close to, or toward the stern or tail: Stow the luggage aft.
  1. situated toward or at the stern or tail: The aft sail was luffing.

Origin of aft

before 950; Middle English afte, Old English æftan from behind, equivalent to æf- opposite + -t- suffix of uncertain value + -an suffix marking motion from; cognate with Old Frisian efta, Old Saxon, Old High German aftan, Gothic aftana, Old Norse aptan, Greek opís(s)ō behind; not akin to Greek apó off Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for after


  1. following in time; in succession toafter dinner; time after time
  2. following; behindthey entered one after another
  3. in pursuit or search ofchasing after a thief; he's only after money
  4. concerningto inquire after his health
  5. consideringafter what you have done, you shouldn't complain
  6. next in excellence or importance tohe ranked Jonson after Shakespeare
  7. in imitation of; in the manner ofa statue after classical models
  8. in accordance with or in conformity toa man after her own heart
  9. with a name derived fromMary was named after her grandmother
  10. US past (the hour of)twenty after three
  11. after all
    1. in spite of everythingit's only a game, after all
    2. in spite of expectations, efforts, etche won the race after all!
  12. after you please go, enter, etc, before me
  1. at a later time; afterwards
  2. coming afterwards; in pursuit
  3. nautical further aft; sternwards
  1. (subordinating) at a time later than that at whichhe came after I had left
  1. nautical further aftthe after cabin

Word Origin for after

Old English æfter; related to Old Norse aptr back, eptir after, Old High German aftar


adverb, adjective
  1. mainly nautical towards or at the stern or rearthe aft deck; aft of the engines

Word Origin for aft

C17: perhaps a shortened form of earlier abaft
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for after

Old English æfter "after, next, throughout, following in time, later," from Old English of "off" (see of) + -ter, a comparative suffix; thus the original meaning was "more away, farther off." Cf. Old Norse eptir "after," Old High German aftar, Gothic aftra "behind." Cognate with Greek apotero "farther off."

After hours "after regular working hours" is from 1861. Afterwit "wisdom that comes too late" is attested from c.1500 but seems to have fallen from use, despite being more needed now than ever. After you as an expression in yielding precedence is recorded by 1650.



Old English æftan "from behind, behind, farthest back," from superlative of Old English æf, af, of "away, away from, off" (see of). The Germanic superlative suffix *-ta corresponds to PIE *-to (cf. Greek protos "first," superlative of pro "before"). Now purely nautical.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with after


In addition to the idioms beginning with after

  • after a fashion
  • after all
  • after all's said and done
  • after a sort
  • after a while
  • after hours
  • after one's own heart
  • after the fact

also see:

  • day after day
  • get after
  • go after
  • inquire after
  • keep after
  • live happily ever after
  • look after
  • morning after
  • name after
  • run after
  • see after
  • sought after
  • take after
  • throw good money after bad
  • time after time
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.