[pos-chuh-muh s, -choo-]
  1. arising, occurring, or continuing after one's death: a posthumous award for bravery.
  2. published after the death of the author: a posthumous novel.
  3. born after the death of the father.

Origin of posthumous

1600–10; < Latin postumus last-born, born after the death of the father (in form a superlative of posterus; see posterior); post-classical spelling with h by association with humus ground, earth, as if referring to burial
Related formspost·hu·mous·ly, adverbpost·hu·mous·ness, nounnon·post·hu·mous, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of posthumously

British Dictionary definitions for posthumously


  1. happening or continuing after one's death
  2. (of a book, etc) published after the author's death
  3. (of a child) born after the father's death
Derived Formsposthumously, adverb

Word Origin for posthumous

C17: from Latin postumus the last, but modified as though from Latin post after + humus earth, that is, after the burial
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 posthumously



mid-15c., "born after the death of the originator" (author or father), from Late Latin posthumus, from Latin postumus "last, last-born," superlative of posterus "coming after, subsequent" (see posterior). Altered in Late Latin by association with Latin humare "to bury," suggesting death; the one born after the father's death obviously being the last. An Old English word for this was æfterboren, literally "after-born." Related: Posthumously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper