Why Are The Dead Referred To As Late?

The OED says the “recently dead” sense of “late” was apparently influenced by the use of the adverb “late” to mean “not long ago (but not now); recently, but no longer.”

Why do people say the dead are late?

The OED says the “recently dead” sense of “late” was apparently influenced by the use of the adverb “late” to mean “not long ago (but not now); recently, but no longer.” Here’s an adverbial example, from a 1435 will, that hints at the adjectival usage: “Thys is the will o Isabell Dove, lat [that is, “formerly”] the wyf of Thomas Dove.”

What's the meaning of the word'late'?

Very broadly speaking, the word 'late' can mean 'unpunctual', 'former' or ' (recenty) dead'. The context usually makes the meaning clear. A lot of people don't like to use the word 'dead', prefering various euphemisims, such as 'late'.

Where does the word " recently dead " come from?

From this comes the early 15c. sense "recently dead, not many years dead" (as in the late Mrs. Smith). The OED does weigh in, actually.

When did the word'deceased'start to be used?

The grave nature of the word dead is avoided especially in the context of sensitive situations. This is where terms like "deceased", "passed away", or "late" are more preferred, leading to their widespread use today. According to this, the usage of the word 'late' as to mean 'deceased' started in the early 15th century.

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