Printable Version
Pronunciation: æf-têr-mæth Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A result or consequence of an event, the wake, what follows, as the aftermath of a war. 2. A second mowing of the same crop in the same season, as an aftermath of grass.

Notes: Today's word is wholly unrelated to another Good Word, polymath, even though, like polymath, it has nothing to do with mathematics, either. It is essentially a lexical orphan, with only a rarely used plural, aftermaths.

In Play: This word is most often used to refer to the unfortunate results of an event, an implication we should not overlook when we place this word in play: "Legend would have our Doubtful Thomas to be the aftermath of an evening of reviled but unrivaled revelry before the revelation of the pill."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a compound noun made up of after "later" + math "mowing". This math comes from the same Germanic root as German Mahd "mowing, a swath" and Matte "meadow", on the one hand, and English mead and meadow, on the other. We can see the aftermath of different suffixes on it: the [th], [d] and [w] in math, mead, and mow, another relative. The original Proto-Indo-European root was *me-/*mo "cut with a sickle". Outside English we see more of its aftermath in Latin metere "to reap" and Middle Cornish midil "reaper". (The last monoglot Cornish speaker, Dolly Pentreath, died December 1777 in Mousehole, Cornwall.)

Dr. Goodword,

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