Origin of 'the late' Mr. so and so

Posted by R. Berg on March 14, 2005

In Reply to: Origin of 'the late' Mr. so and so posted by Ginny on March 13, 2005

: From where does this use of the word LATE arise?
: TY
: Ginny

The Oxford English Dictionary's earliest example of "late" meaning recently deceased is dated 1490. "Late" as an adjective meaning "recent but not continuing to the present" is similar, but the OED's first citation for it is from approx. 1548, so this sense may not have given rise to the "recently deceased" one. The OED says this latter sense of "late" apparently developed from an adverbial use, defined as "Not long since (but not now); recently (but no longer)." Its first quotation for "late" as an adverb in this sense is "John the monke late cardynal of Rome" .

"The Hendersons will all be there, late of Pablo Fanques' fair, what a scene!" (Beatles)