The word posthumous [ pɔstʊm ] or posthumous [ pɔsthuːm ] ("after death [entering]") is used as an adjective or adverb in connection with publications about a person who died before publication. For example, the dead are mentioned posthumously, regardless of whether they were public figures or unknown during their lifetime . Example sentence: "Max Mustermann was honored posthumously by the mayor today."
It goes back to Latin posthumous ( last , superlative of posterus 'following', cf. Latin post 'after'). In classical Latin, postumus only means 'born last' or 'occurring after death' with reference to lifetime (e.g. postuma fama in the sense of ' after- glory'), and postumus was also male in this meaning for a time First name common for the last born. Only in the terminology of the Roman jurists means Postumus also posthumous' (after the father has written his will d. E., Not necessary after the death of the father) in classical times. In this sense one speaks of a posthumous birth . This special meaning, which includes the reference to the death of another person, is linked to the more recent use of the word, which then always refers to the death of the same person to whom the word is applied.
Since Isidore of Seville , the word meaning has been derived from post humationem ('after burial'). This corresponds to the word spelling posthumus , which has been common in Latin since the Middle Ages. According to linguistic standards, this etymology does not apply.
Spelling and usage
The word form posthumous is first recorded in German in the 18th century. The previously documented English and French equivalents also contain an h ( posthumous , posthumous ). The posthumous spelling , which is based on the original Latin form, competes with the posthumous spelling , which is classified as folk etymological in some lexicons . The currently valid official spelling regulation (2006) allows both spellings to apply.
- Karl Ernst Georges : Comprehensive Latin-German concise dictionary . 8th, improved and increased edition. Hahnsche Buchhandlung, Hanover 1918 ( zeno.org [accessed September 24, 2019]).
- Cf. Aulus Gellius , Noctes Atticae II, 16.5: Postuma proles non eum significat qui patre mortuo, sed qui postremo loco natus est.
- Adolf Berger: Encyclopedic Dictionary of Roman Law. Philadelphia 1953 (= Transactions of the American Philosophical Society NS 43,2), p. 639f.
- Isidor, Etymologiae IX, 5,22: Posthumus vocatur eo quod post humationem patris nascitur, id est post obitum. Iste et defuncti noun accepit. Sic enim lex voluit, ut qui de defuncto nascitur, defuncti nomine appelletur. Cf. already Varro , De lingua latinae IX, 60: … qui natus est post patris mortem Postumus dicitur. See Robert Maltby: A Lexicon of Ancient Latin Etymologies. Francis Cairns, Leeds 1991 (= Arca Classical and Medieval Texts, Papers and Monographs 25 ), p. 489.
- Duden - German Universal Dictionary. 3. Edition. Mannheim 1996, keyword posthumously .
- German spelling. Rules and dictionary. Official regulation. Published by the Council for German Spelling . Gunter Narr-Verlag, Tübingen 2006.