August 10, 2016
- belated (adjective)
- What does it mean?
- : delayed beyond the usual time
- How do you use it?
- He wished her a happy belated birthday and said he was sorry to have missed it.
- Are you a word wiz?
The meaning we give above for "belated" is only its most recent one. What is the original meaning of "belated"?"Belated" is the past participle of "belate," an old verb that is no longer used. "Belate" means "to make late," but the past participle "belated" was used in a poetic sense to refer to a time that is already late--in other words, a time when it is dark. (The infrequently used word "benighted" means essentially the same thing: "overtaken by darkness or night.")This sense of "belated" was only used for about a hundred years and was outlasted by the "later than the usual time" sense we are familiar with today.