Definition of post-mortem in English:



  • 1An examination of a dead body to determine the cause of death.

    ‘the hospital will want to carry out a post-mortem’
    • ‘We can't speculate as to the cause of death and a post-mortem is yet to be scheduled.’
    • ‘He insisted that following his death his post-mortem should be performed in front of his own medical staff and published in the local weekly journal.’
    • ‘Some hospital deaths, however, must be reported to the Procurator Fiscal whether there is clinical interest in the post-mortem examination or not.’
    • ‘People can object, but if the coroner considers that any delay may limit the ability to determine the cause of death, then the post-mortem will go ahead.’
    • ‘The post-mortem revealed that death was due to powerful electric shock, not because of burns.’
    • ‘A post-mortem revealed that he died as a result of complications from head injuries.’
    • ‘His body was brought to Sligo General Hospital where a post-mortem was carried out yesterday, Monday.’
    • ‘If they get proper consent, then nothing prevents pathologists from carrying out post-mortems.’
    • ‘Days after the discovery a post-mortem was performed, toxicology and DNA tests ordered.’
    • ‘There were no signs of injury on the his body and a post-mortem examination failed to establish a cause of death.’
    • ‘A post-mortem is due to be held today, but last night the cause of death remained unclear.’
    • ‘The post-mortems showed that their deaths were all due to arsenic poisoning.’
    • ‘But there was heartbreak for other families where organs were taken from dead children following coroners' post-mortems.’
    • ‘A post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death was due to be carried out today by a Home Office pathologist.’
    • ‘A post-mortem revealed that the dead man had been hit on the side of the head with a blunt instrument before being strangled and dismembered.’
    • ‘A post-mortem on her body revealed that she was four months pregnant at the time of her death.’
    • ‘The officer being interviewed by reporters said that they wouldn't know the exact time of death until a post-mortem was performed, but their best guess was some time in the last few hours.’
    • ‘A post-mortem on her body has ‘proved inconclusive’, said a spokeswoman.’
    • ‘The doctor who performed the post-mortems on the bodies of the family is due to testify on Tuesday.’
    autopsy, post-mortem examination, pm, dissection, necropsy
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1An analysis or discussion of an event held soon after it has occurred, especially in order to determine why it was a failure.
      ‘an election post-mortem on why the party lost’
      • ‘Els, though, exhibited the fortitude to hold his own when others were holding post-mortems.’
      • ‘Since 9 October we have had the usual stream of election post-mortems.’
      • ‘The party is continuing its election post-mortem, and one area under scrutiny is its media policy.’
      • ‘He's quite right, and indeed my post-mortem analysis gave White a small edge.’
      • ‘If vote-splitting is not an issue for discussion in the election post-mortem, then proportional representation should be.’
      • ‘If they don't we'll be holding this same post-mortem in 2006.’
      • ‘And with everyone back safely from the first run of the event, the post-mortems continue.’
      • ‘The festival is planned for this year only; a post-mortem will decide if an annual event is feasible.’
      • ‘The players huddled together here after a match for a post-mortem of the game, analysing and discussing, striving to iron out the flaws.’
      • ‘Then why this grand spectacle, starting from titillating anticipation to frenzied post-mortems after the budget is unveiled?’
      • ‘His performance quickly became the subject of ridicule in media post-mortems of the event.’
      • ‘When I agreed to do a post-mortem on the Saskatchewan provincial election, I initially thought I would just do a ‘report.’’
      • ‘The party will hold its post-mortem on the election and the loss of support in its traditional heartlands.’
      • ‘As I remarked in my post at the time, if anything is to be learnt in the post-mortems, it is that there is plenty of failure all round for all sides to digest.’
      analysis, evaluation, assessment, appraisal, examination, review, investigation, breakdown, critique, study
      View synonyms


  • 1[attributive] Relating to a post-mortem.

    ‘a post-mortem report’
    • ‘Depending on the strain of virus and how it reacts, post-mortem findings are very variable.’
    • ‘This difference is probably attributable to the fact that the abdomen can undergo post-mortem telescoping.’
    • ‘The post-mortem toxicological report confirmed the 45-year-old's cause of death was a drug overdose of morphine and fluoxetine prescribed for her anxiety.’
    • ‘It is recorded in my post-mortem notes that he had been shot twice.’
    • ‘Routine post-mortem testing did not rule out BSE, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly called mad cow.’
    • ‘It was not about the clinical post-mortem measurement of her cerebral functionality.’
    • ‘A post-mortem study of the animals showed a robust growth of neurons and an increase in neurotransmitters in the spinal cords of rats that received the transplanted neuronal cells.’
    • ‘A postmortem examination revealed she had taken a cocktail of paracetamol and sleeping tablets.’
    • ‘Irish hospitals have only apologised for the trauma caused by media disclosures about post-mortem practices.’
    • ‘The minister said the first report would deal with post-mortem issues in paediatric hospitals.’
    • ‘The results of forensic post-mortem tests showed the babies died from septicaemia caused by enterobacter bacteria.’
    • ‘They said clinical and post-mortem studies were needed to look at the causes of this kind of bleeding in the eye and how it could be linked to abusive head injury.’
    • ‘A post-mortem report revealed she had drowned.’
    • ‘We suspect septicemia because of the maggot bites and the conditions in which he was found but we can only tell once the post-mortem results are in.’
    • ‘An example would be Alzheimer's disease, for which there is no good test but highly reliable post-mortem findings.’
    • ‘When the police brandished a post-mortem report which exonerated the cops from point-blank range killing, didn't we react by saying that the autopsy must have been fixed?’
    • ‘A post-mortem report records that she died from pulmonary barotrauma, which causes air bubbles to circulate in the arterial system.’
    • ‘The post-mortem test revealed that one of her sons was suffering from an infection.’
    • ‘There are no tests to confirm it in living cows or humans; the only reliable way is to conduct a post-mortem exam.’
    • ‘In October he issued a report to the police estimating a post-mortem interval of 24 hours.’
    1. 1.1Happening after death.
      ‘post-mortem changes in his body’
      [as adverb] ‘assessment of morphology in nerves taken post-mortem’
      • ‘And when we were diagnosing them clinically one quarter of all children were actually dead and diagnosed post-mortem one way or another.’
      • ‘Many of the interior molds exhibit evidence of post-mortem distortion prior to preservation and solution of the carapace.’
      • ‘Researchers verified blood vessels and other markings to make sure they were relevant brain components and not simply artifacts left by a post-mortem impact.’
      • ‘On the other hand it is often difficult to tell whether the chemical and structural changes observed during the various types of cell death are pre- or post-mortem events.’
      • ‘Few sporadic reports describe post-mortem changes in human brain of heat stress victims.’
      • ‘However, this morphological pattern might result from post-mortem muscle contraction.’
      • ‘The blobs correspond to vacuities in the dentine and are probably due to calcite or some other post-mortem infilling.’
      • ‘Thurlbeck and Muller quantified the extent of emphysema by imaging the post-mortem lung.’
      • ‘Many of the specimens show contraction and coiling that is probably a post-mortem feature caused by dehydration in the brine and subsequent contraction of ligaments.’
      • ‘This could result from the compaction of curved or partially enrolled individuals, or possibly peri-mortem or post-mortem muscle contraction.’
      • ‘A post-mortem declaration of genius, by its very nature, falls on the deafened ears of the one who wishes to hear it the most.’
      • ‘Besides, it is necessary to assess post-mortem colonization of the shells or movement of the hosts once the animal died.’
      • ‘A third controversy concerns attempts to show that even if the dead cannot be harmed, the harm thesis is correct, since death, and some post-mortem events, harm the living.’
      • ‘Second, the tissues that have been through programmed senescence and death, instead of disappearing through post-mortem decay, persist as mummified corpses - namely as wood.’
      • ‘The in situ position of many of these jaws is of considerable interest and suggests that post-mortem disturbance of the ammonite was not great.’


Mid 18th century: from Latin, literally after death.