aftermath /af-tər-math/. noun. Today’s WORD is familiar but its etymology may not be. Aftermath is derived from the Old English math (a mowing, a crop), which combines mow and the suffix -th (a suffix that forms nouns from verbs denoting a process or action) in the same way as the commonplace grow + thdoes. So aftermath is literally a “second mowing,” which has come to more generally mean consequences or conditions arising from an event, most often an unpleasant one.
“…the certainty and authority that I heard reminded me of the plain, less-than-enthusiastic report of a documentary, which is the tone of voice of those undoubting parts of the Bible. ¶ ‘I NEVER HEAR THE EXPLOSION. WHAT I HEAR IS THE AFTERMATH OF AN EXPLOSION. THERE IS A RINGING IN MY EARS, AND THOSE HIGH-PITCHED POPPING AND TICKING SOUNDS THAT A HOT ENGINE MAKES AFTER YOU SHUT IT OFF; AND PIECES OF THE SKY ARE FALLING, AND BITS OF WHITE-MAYBE PAPER, MAYBE PLASTER-ARE FLOATING DOWN LIKE SNOW. THERE ARE SILVERY SPARKLES IN THE AIR, TOO-MAYBE IT’S SHATTERED GLASS. THERE’S SMOKE, AND THE STINK OF BURNING; THERE’S NO FLAME, BUT EVERYTHING IS SMOLDERING.’” (John Irving)
“…And ‘Do not go’ cry the dandelions, from their heads of folly / And ‘Do not go’ cry the yard cinders, who have no future, only their infernal aftermath / And ‘Do not go’ cries the cracked trough by the gate, fatalist of starlight and zero // ‘Stay’ says the arrangement of stars…” (Ted Hughes)
“Sometimes reporters will speak of wanting to spend the night at Puerta del Diablo, in order to document the actual execution, but at the time I was in Salvador no one had. ¶ The aftermath, the daylight aspect, is well documented.” (Joan Didion)
“The following day, they travelled on into Germany. It was not like seeing a fallen knight or the corpse of a monstrous wolf. It wasn’t even the way Edie had imagined it, with burned-out tanks and beaten, thankful people. ¶ It was like the aftermath of bad surgery, or a pit fight in Calcutta.” (Nick Harkaway)
“I once, on a third date, found myself with one of those annoying isolated jumping muscles or twitches in my scalp which seized on and off throughout the evening and, on the ottoman, made it appear that I was raising and lowering one eyebrow in a rapid and lascivious way, which in the psychically charged aftermath of the sudden proposal simply torpedoed the whole thing.” (David Foster Wallace)