Origin of the word
The word aftermath is from the Old English ‘æfter’ meaning ‘behind in place, later in time’ and ‘mæð’ from the Proto-Indo-European root ‘me-‘, which means ‘to cut down grass’. The first recorded use of the word aftermath was in the 1520s, when it referred to the second crop of grass planted on the same plot of land on which the first crop had already been harvested. Through the 16th and 17th centuries, the word aftermath had many alternate forms, including ‘aftercrop’, ‘aftergrass’ and ‘lattermath’.
Aftermath is a noun predominantly used to refer to the period of time after something bad has happened. It is frequently used to describe the immediate effects of natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes or floods:
“Typhoon Damrey, or ‘Storm No. 12’, made landfall early Saturday morning, 4 November, hitting communities with pre-existing malnutrition concerns and lack of information on preparedness and protection from the disaster and its aftermath.” UN News Centre. 15th November 2017: Children at risk of malnutrition in aftermath of Typhoon Damrey, reports UNICEF.
According to UNICEF, the recent typhoon that struck south-central Vietnam has left thousands of children, mothers, and other vulnerable groups at greater risk of malnutrition and disease. In the aftermath of the storm, residents of poor rural areas are still struggling to access aid and have been largely underserved by relief organisations. Approximately 150,000 children under age five and more than 80,000 pregnant or nursing women are in urgent need of special care. Families in poor and remote areas, who already experienced difficulty meeting basic needs before the typhoon, are now having trouble getting enough food and clean water. Malnutrition is a serious threat, as are waterborne illnesses like dysentery, E. coli and cholera.
Aid associations, including UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Development Programme, have been assisting residents in the storm’s aftermath, and officials say they will be ramping up their efforts to strengthen relief for the most vulnerable populations.
1. the effects and results of something bad or important
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.