Aftermath is defined as follows in the Oxford dictionary:

aftermath NOUN 1The consequences or after-effects of a significant unpleasant event.

Does it mean we can use it as the replacement of "after-effect"? For example, if my sentence is as follows:

The after-effects of the world war will be dreadful for the entire world.

Can I write it as follows:

The aftermath of the world war will be dreadful for the entire world.

I checked the example sentences given on the Oxford page. All these examples used the following phrase: "In the aftermath of". But if "aftermath" is used in such a way then the following definition from Cambridge looks more precise:

aftermath Noun the period that follows an unpleasant event or accident, and the effects that it causes:

  • 1
    'Aftermath' is mostly used to signify a major or significant event, caused as a consequence of another event. Although similar, 'after-effect' could also imply small or minor consequences to an event.
    – Varun Nair
    Feb 6, 2018 at 10:17

1 Answer 1


Aftermath refers to the immediate period following some event. Its origin according to the SOED is "after-mowing" that is the first growth of grass that appears after the mower has finished. So you can say "in the aftermath of the Second World War, food supplies were restricted". It would sound odd, however, to refer to the collapse of the Warsaw Pact bloc in 1989 as part of the aftermath of that war even though that collapse might be argued to be an after-effect of the war.

It is a matter of judgement how long after an event aftermath is still appropriate, but after-effects begin immediately and can go on indefinitely.

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