Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
December 24th, 2015
Episode 403 of 793 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 24, 2015 is: aftermath \AF-ter-math\ noun 1 : a second-growth crop 2 :consequence, result 3 :the period immediately following a usually ruinous event Examples: It was almost noon before I felt ready to face the aftermath of the previous night's festivities, and to begin cleaning up. "In theaftermathof World War II, Tupperwarepartiesbecame a popular compromise between the jobs many [American women] had grown accustomed to while American men were fighting overseas and their re-entrenched domestic obligations as wives and mothers." — Schuyler Velasco, The Christian Science Monitor, 31 Aug. 2015 Did you know? Aftermath dates to the late 1400s and was originally an agricultural term. Its two parts are transparent—but only if you're familiar with an ancient word math that is now used only in British dialectal English and that means "a mowing of a grass or hay crop" and also refers to the crop that is gathered. The original aftermath came, of course, after the math: it was historically the crop of (usually) grass cut, grazed, or plowed under after the first crop of the season from the same soil. It wasn't until the mid-late 1600s that aftermath developed its other meanings, both of which are now far more common than the first.