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Emeritus ( //; plural emeriti; abbreviation emer.) is a post-positive adjective used to designate a retired professor, bishop, or other professional. The female equivalent, emerita (/ɨˈmɛrɨtə/), is also sometimes used, but phrases such as professor emerita are not in proper usage according to Latin grammar rules.
In many cases the term is conferred automatically upon all persons who retire at a given rank. This is the usual case for retired professors. In other cases, it is used when a person of importance in a given profession retires or hands over the position so that his former rank can still be used in his title.
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.)
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 who has already had full professorial status before he or she retired. The possession of a PhD or other higher degree is not sufficient for calling onself "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.
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". Emeritus does not necessarily indicate that the person is retired from all the duties of her/his previous positions; he/she may continue to exercise some of them.