I know that "posthumous" means "after one's death." But how would you use it to say:

This is shown by his posthumous weakening of the monarchy.

What I mean to say is that after his death, other people weakened the monarchy. Would you still use "his", or would you just say "the posthumous weakening"?

  • 2
    Neither. Google Dictionary's definition shows the restrictions on usage: <<occurring, awarded, or appearing after the death of the originator >> (emphasis mine). Say 'After his death, [other people's actions // events] weakened the monarchy.' Aug 23, 2014 at 22:05
  • Extra credit for using it posthumously.
    – Drew
    Aug 23, 2014 at 22:12
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    How can the weakening of the monarchy be “his” weakening of it, especially given that he is dead?
    – tchrist
    Aug 23, 2014 at 22:48
  • It is easy to blame the dead king; he can't down-vote your comments! Aug 24, 2014 at 0:37

3 Answers 3


"Posthumous" connotes events/effects that refer back to the dead guy, so it's the wrong word here. Simply say the monarchy weakened after [his] death.


This question came up between me and my sister. She was head of the English department at an exclusive private school until her recent retirement. I am a career telecommunications expert.

I think you are asking two questions here. Can the word posthumous be used to refer to an event rather than a dead person? How to construct the sentence correctly using the word posthumous or posthumously with reference to an event after the king's death.

Your use of posthumous weakening is correct to refer to a noun "the government" that happened after the king's death. English 101 an adjective is a word that modifies another person or thing in a sentence. As an adjective posthumous is always used before a noun. Something that happened, was done, or published after someone's death.

Whereas the adverb posthumously must refer back to the action or verb. "Things in the government happened posthumously."

The third possibility is that posthumous can refer to an event rather than a dead person. This third method is only vernacular. In most modern dictionaries you will find the word posthumous always referring to a dead person. However if you search http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=posthumous in the third definition the word can be used "With hindsight occurring after a particular event. Nothing having to do with death." In telecommunications with regard to an outage that has been fixed we use this term in a phrase such as, "To prevent a future outage additional actions were taken posthumously.

Needless to say my English teacher sister took great umbrage with the third definition when I used it in a sentence to her. With any specialty field of endeavor, especially telecommunications, private definitions of words become common and mistakenly using them with the wrong audience can be catastrophic.

In literature use the traditional dictionary definition of posthumous or posthumously as always referring to a dead person.

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    It is quite common to call an after-the fact analysis of a computer hardware/software failure a "post-mortem". This is how some "best practices" evolve—the list of what not to do next time. By the way, did you know Autopsy is from Greek for "see for yourself"? Feb 23, 2015 at 4:58

"his" monarchy ENDED when he died. it was not "weakened".

"The" monarchy was weakened after he died. But after he died, it was not his, so it was not posthumous.

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