Thursday, June 4, 2015

Word of the day: emeritus

When I was a college student, I would occasionally notice the word emeritus next to a faculty name in the course catalogue. I thought it meant “really old but somehow, God knows how, still teaching,” or something like that. I didn’t know what it meant. Here is a definition, from what might be called a dictionary emeritus, Webster’s New International Dictionary, second edition:

adj . [L., past past. of emerere , emereri , to obtain by service, serve out one’s term, fr. e out + merere , mermeri , to merit, earn, serve. See MERIT.] Retired from office or active duty on account of age, infirmity, or long and faithful service, and honored with a nonofficial position and title corresponding to those held in active service; — esp. of a clergyman or college professor.
Yes, merit, and all that. But I like the awkward overtone of penal life in “serve out one’s term.” A professor emeritus has done the time.

A phone call yesterday prompted me to write this post: a friend called, and Elaine asked if she would like to speak to the professor emeritus. Who? Me! I mean I .

comments: 6

Geo-B said...

I ran into a professor whose retirement was written up in the paper. A neighbor told her, I'm sorry to hear about the emeritis.

Chris said...

In other words, "put out to pasture."

Michael Leddy said...

The heartbreak of emeritis. :)

The pasture is a lovely place to be. So much space. :)

I enjoyed teaching right through to my last classes. I could have gone in for any number of years, but I wanted to stop while it was still fun. Now I get to read Moby-Dick.

Anonymous said...

Given this blog's penchant for word play at times, might I suggest a new entrant to the carousal carousel of word-a-laciousness?

If there is an emeritus, would not some have earned a similar title? Ameritus?

Daughter Number Three said...

Congratulations, and welcome to the roomy pasture!

Michael Leddy said...

Ameritus the Beautiful?

And thank you, DN3.