11

I could never figure this out. Is this structure only for those who have recently passed?

The late Steve Jobs...

Or can I use it to refer to someone who died a long time ago?

The late George Washington...

3
  • 2
    Are you asking what the threshold is between being called 'late' and not having to bother?
    – Mitch
    Commented May 29, 2012 at 20:42
  • Yeah, pretty much.
    – esqew
    Commented May 29, 2012 at 20:47
  • Note for later readers: a very similar question was asked again here, and for some reason attracted a lot more detailed answers.
    – PLL
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 13:25

1 Answer 1

8

Yes it is most appropriate for use with those who were recently living.

For an explanation:

The sense of "deceased" (as in the late Mrs. Smith) is from late 15c., from an adverbial sense of "recently."

-From http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=late&allowed_in_frame=0

1

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.