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"Late Husband/Wife"

Posted by R. Berg on November 14, 2003

In Reply to: "Late Husband/Wife" posted by Smokey Stover on November 14, 2003

: : : : Why is it that when people talk about a husband or wife they say "My Late Wife" or "My Late Husband". That has always bothered me...
: : : : thanks for "listening"

: : : Have people with living spouses been talking about them that way?

: : : To Ms. Berg: Actually, yes, sometimes, or very much like it. On Forensic Files and similar TV shows we sometimes hear about wife-murderers who arouse suspicion by talking about their wives as though they were dead when no one else knows that she's defunct. To Tim: The phrase "my late husband" means, of course, my husband who died recently, or "is lately dead." Late, as an adjective or adverb, can mean "of late" or "lately," and can be used to refer to a variety of situations which were true until lately, but no longer are. "Where late bloomed the lilacs." "Late Bishop of Fyfe, but now of Drum." (He's still alive.)

: : I'm sorry for my solecism in writing "my husband who is lately dead." I omitted the comma after husband, indicating this to be a non-restrictive clause.

I hadn't heard "my late H/W" from anyone still married. That's a strange use indeed.

Remember the Beatles' "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite"?
"The Hendersons will all be there, late of Pablo Fanques Fair, what a scene."