Emeritus is a post-positive adjective
Post-positive adjective
A postpositive adjective is an adjective that appears after the noun that it modifies. In some languages this is the normal syntax, but in English it is rare, largely confined to archaic or institutional expressions. Aplenty, galore, and the informal extraordinaire are examples of adjectives that...

 that is used to designate a retired professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

, bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

, or other professional or as a title. The female equivalent emerita (/ɨˈmɛrɨtə/) is also sometimes used.


In many cases the term is conferred automatically upon all persons who retire at a given rank. This is the usual case for retired professors. In other cases it is used when a person of importance in a given profession retires and/or hands over the position, so that his former rank can still be used in his title.

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the word is used either as a postpositional adjective (e.g., "professor emeritus") or as a preposition adjective (e.g., "emeritus professor"). There is a third, somewhat less common usage, following the full title (e.g.,professor of medicine, emeritus.)

It is also commonly used in business and non-profit organizations to denote perpetual status of the founder of an organization, or key individuals who moved the organization to new heights as a former key member on the Board of Directors. (i.e. Chairman Emeritus; Director Emeritus; President of the Board Emeritus.)

In the United Kingdom and most other parts of the world, the term 'Emeritus Professor' is given only to people who already had full professorial status before they retired. Those with PhDs or other higher degrees would not be entitled to call themselves an 'Emeritus Professor' upon retirement. The term "Professor Emeritus" is also recognised in the UK but is generally only used by new universites, older more prestigious Russell Group
Russell Group
The Russell Group is a collaboration of twenty UK universities that together receive two-thirds of research grant and contract funding in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1994 to represent their interests to the government, parliament and other similar bodies...

 universities favour the term "Emeritus Professor". The word is capitalised when it forms part of a title which is capitalised.

The word originated in the mid-18th century from Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 as the past participle of emereri meaning to "earn one's discharge by service." Emereri itself is a compound of the prefix e- (a variant of ex-) meaning "out of or from" and merēre meaning "earn." Emeritus does not necessarily indicate that the person is retired from all the duties of her/his previous positions; he/she may continue to exercise some of them.

See also

  • Professors emeriti in the United States
  • President pro tempore emeritus of the United States Senate
  • List of emeritus general authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Diocesan bishop (bishop emeritus in the Catholic Church)
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