Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Belated


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is belated. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Belated means “happening or coming very late or too late.”

// Olivia called her friend on his birthday to let him know that a belated gift from her was on its way.

BELATED in Context

“Skating reached a pop-culture peak in the … 1970s and ’80s, before surging back into popularity during the pandemic as the ideal socially-distanced fitness activity. … Still, Angela Tanner, the assistant executive director of the Roller Skating Association International, was enthusiastic about my belated leap onto the bandwagon: ‘I think there’s this perception that roller skating has exploded, but roller skating never really stopped,’ she said.” — Christine Emba, The Washington Post, 1 Jan. 2023

Did You Know?

Don’t worry about being late to the party if you don’t know the history of belated; you’re right on time. Long ago, there was a verb belate, which meant “to make late.” From the beginning, belate tended to mostly turn up in the form of its past participlebelated. When used as an adjective, belated originally meant “overtaken by night,” as in “belated travelers seeking lodging for the night.” This sense did not overstay its welcome; it was eventually overtaken by the “delayed” meaning we know today. As you may have guessed, belate and its descendant belated derive from the adjective latebelate was formed by simply combining the prefix be- (“to cause to be”) with late.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a ReplyCancel reply