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Emeritus (//; plural emeriti; abbreviation emer.)" (Latin ēx, "out of", and meritus, "merit"), in its current usage, is a postpositive adjective used to designate a retired professor, bishop, president, prime minister, or other professional; as such it refers to the post-retirement status of at least one pope. The female equivalent, emerita (/ɨˈmɛrɨtə/), is also sometimes used, but as is often true of loanwords, the use of the donor language's inflectional system faces limits in the recipient language. Although Latin and the Romance languages inflect professor/professora for men and women, in English professor is not inflected for gender (both men and women use it), and Emeritus is often similarly uninflected.
In some cases the term is conferred automatically upon all persons who retire at a given rank. In others it remains a mark of distinguished service, awarded to only a few on retirement; this is the usual case for retired professors. It is also used when a person of distinction in a profession retires or hands over the position, enabling his erstwhile rank to be retained in his title. For example, Pope Benedict XVI retired to Pope Emeritus in February 2013. The term Emeritus does not necessarily signify that a person has relinquished all the duties of their erstwhile position and they may continue to exercise some of them.
It is also commonly used in business and nonprofit organizations to denote perpetual status of the founder of an organization or individuals who moved the organization to new heights as a former key member on the board of directors (e.g., 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 a person of outstanding merit who has already had full professorial status before he or she retired. The possession of a PhD or other higher degree, or even full professorial status, is not always sufficient for calling oneself "emeritus professor" upon retirement. The term "Professor Emeritus" is also recognised in the UK. The word is capitalized when it forms part of a title which is capitalized.
In the United States, the word is used either as a postpositional adjective (e.g., "professor emeritus"), or as a prepositional adjective (e.g., "emeritus professor"). There is a third usage, although not employed as often, in which the word follows a full title (e.g., professor of medicine, emeritus.)
Emerere is a compound of the prefix e- (a variant of ex-) meaning "out of" or "from" and merēre meaning "earn". The past participle of emerere is emeritus, and the original meaning is "to serve out, to complete one's service".
- Professors emeriti in the United States
- President pro tempore emeritus of the United States Senate
- Diocesan bishop (bishop emeritus in the Catholic Church)