The Meaning of Emeritus: What It Is and How To Use It

What does the Latin word emeritus mean and how is it used in English? This article will teach you the origins and usage of this common Latin phrase.

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

You might hear the word emeritus being used to refer to a person who is retired. But what does this word mean, and what are its origins? This article covers the meaning of the word emeritus and its variations. We’ll also cover other ways to say emeritus and how to use the word emeritus in a sentence.

What Does the Word Emeritus Mean?

According to The Free Dictionary, the adjective emeritus refers to a person who is retired but retains the right to use an honorary title of their previous position. This is most commonly used with professors at universities who are referred to as professor emeritus after retirement. 

The pronunciation of emeritus is ɪˈmɛr ɪ təs. The pronunciation of emeriti, the plural of emeritus, is ɪˈmɛr ɪˌtaɪ. The word emeritus is four syllables: e-mer-i-tus. There is also the feminine form emerita, which can refer to a female emeritus, such as a professor emerita.

What Is the Origin of Emeritus?

Lexico states that the term emeritus is Latin in origin and comes directly from the Latin ēmeritus. This term has been used in English since the mid-18th century and comes from the past participle of ēmerērī or ēmerēre

This is a Latin word that means to earn discharge by service. Take the root e (a variant of ex or “out of”), and couple it with the root mereri, meaning to earn. These are Indo-European roots.

How Can the Word Emeritus Be Used in a Sentence?

Emeritus can refer to a person who formerly held an important position in their given field and wishes to retain that title after their retirement. The word emeritus often comes after the title itself. Check out these example sentences containing the word emeritus to see how the word emeritus is used.

The long-term emeritus professor from Princeton University started a scholarship for students who had been in active service or who had given sufficient service to volunteer programs.

Austin, the pastor, could not believe he would finally be considered emeritus. This was a highly valued rank, but he couldn’t dream of stopping his assigned duties. He looked forward to studying the teachings of the Pope and various rabbis with his time off.

The veteran crime reporter was ready to hang up her hat and become emerita. She would take over for the retired chair of the department, a wretched emeritus and popular policeman who was corrupt.

It had been years since the officer of a college police force was on active professional duty, but he still decided to retain the honorific version of his previous title detective and go by detective emeritus.

Her performance of public duty and faithful services in the face of infirmity and on account of age led the university to grant Lolita emerita status.

What Are Synonyms of Emeritus?

The word emeritus refers to a very specific title for a retired honoree and is not always accurate in other situations. However, Power Thesaurus provides a list of synonyms for emeritus that can be used in its place. These words can be sued if a person is honored or retired but is not technically considered an emeritus or emerita:

  • aged
  • associate
  • bob
  • causa
  • cidevant
  • cloistered
  • complete
  • discharged
  • dishonor
  • distinguished
  • done working
  • elderly
  • emerita
  • former
  • honor
  • honorable
  • honorary
  • honored
  • honorific
  • humble
  • in retirement
  • in the distance
  • inactive
  • insular
  • old
  • outgoing
  • pensioned
  • pensioned off
  • pensioner
  • resigned
  • retired
  • retiring
  • secluded
  • shy
  • superannuated
  • venerable
  • visiting professor
  • well-earned
  • withdrawn

What Are Other Translations of Emeritus?

The word emeritus is Latin, but you can refer to a person who is retired in many other languages,.

  • Finnish: eläkkeellä
  • Tamil: ஓய்வு பெற்றது
  • Thai: เกษียณแล้ว
  • Catalan: jubilat
  • Chinese (PRC): 退休
  • Japanese: 退院しました
  • Spanish: retirado
  • Telugu: రిటైర్
  • Serbian: пензионисан
  • Greek: συνταξιούχος
  • Filipino: retirado
  • Italian: pensionato
  • Portuguese (Portugal): aposentado
  • Norwegian: pensjonert
  • Dutch: gepensioneerd
  • Hebrew: פרש
  • Arabic: متقاعد
  • Hindi: सेवेन िवरित
  • Portuguese (Brazil): aposentado
  • Latvian: pensionēts
  • Lithuanian: išėjęs į pensiją
  • German: im Ruhestand
  • Slovenian: Upokojen
  • Icelandic: eftirlaun
  • Gujarati: નિવૃત્ત
  • Urdu: ریٹائرڈ
  • Turkish: emekli
  • Korean: 은퇴했다
  • Polish: na emeryturze
  • Vietnamese: nghỉ hưu.
  • Estonian: pensionile jäänud
  • French: retraité
  • Romanian: retras
  • Malay: bersara
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 退休
  • Russian: ушедший на пенсию
  • Bulgarian: пенсионер
  • Croatian: u mirovini
  • Danish: pensioneret
  • Welsh: wedi ymddeol
  • Kannada: ನಿವೃತ್ತರಾದ
  • Czech: v důchodu
  • Malayalam: വിരമിച്ച
  • Amharic: ጡረታ ወጥቷል
  • Indonesian: pensiun
  • Slovak: odišiel do dôchodku
  • Basque: erretitartakatu
  • Bengali: অবসরপ্রাপ্ত
  • Swedish: pensionerad
  • Swahili: Mstaafu
  • Hungarian: nyugdíjas
  • Marathi: निवृत्त
  • Ukrainian: відставлений

Other Common Latin Phrases

Your Dictionary also states many different Latin words and phrases that are used in the English language. How many of these do you know?

  • Pro forma: As a matter of form
  • Ipso facto: By the fact itself
  • Ad nauseam: To the point of sickness
  • Cum laude: With honor
  • Carpe diem: Seize the day
  • Et cetera: And the rest of such things
  • Rigor mortis: The stiffness of death
  • Vice versa: The position being reversed
  • E pluribus unum: Out of many, one
  • De facto: In fact
  • Pro bono: For the good
  • Mea culpa: Through my own fault
  • Caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware
  • Bona fide: In good faith
  • Per diem: For each day


Overall, the word emeritus (ɪˈmɛrɪtə.) is used to refer to a person who is retired but who retains their status or title of their previously held position. This word is most often used to refer to a retired professor.


  1. Common Latin Words and Phrases We Use in English | Your Dictionary 
  2. Emeritus synonyms – 159 Words and Phrases for Emeritus | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Emeritus – definition of emeritus | The Free Dictionary 
  4. EMERITUS English Definition and Meaning |