Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun One that returns after a lengthy absence.
  • noun One who returns after death.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun One who returns; especially, one who returns after a long period of absence or after death; a ghost; a specter; specifically, in mod. spiritualism, an apparition; a materialization.
  • noun In mathematics, a form which continually returns as leading coefficient of irreducible covariants.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Someone who returns from a long absence.
  • noun A person or thing reborn.
  • noun A supernatural being that returns from the dead; a zombie or ghost.
  • adjective Used as an adjective.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective coming back
  • adjective of or relating to or typical of a revenant
  • noun someone who has returned from the dead
  • noun a person who returns after a lengthy absence

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French, from present participle of revenir, to return, from Old French; see revenue.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

19th century. From French revenant, the present participle of revenir ("to return"). Compare revenue.

Examples

  • But spacers, being spacers, would prefer for their saviour to be a revenant from the past rather than a modern-day phenomenon.

    365 tomorrows » 2006 » August : A New Free Flash Fiction SciFi Story Every Day

  • Loved the use of the word revenant, haven't seen it used so perfectly before.

    pretty dumb things

  • If being a vampire was a world of cold punctuated by brief moments of warmth at feeding time, being a revenant was a world of ice with no relief.

    Crossed

  • If being a vampire was a world of cold punctuated by brief moments of warmth at feeding time, being a revenant was a world of ice with no relief.

    Crossed

  • Few aspects of modern life go untouched: labor laws are in effect to prevent slave labor abuse of the undead, for whom the official, politically correct term is a "revenant".

    American Zombie (2008): B

  • Few aspects of modern life go untouched: labor laws are in effect to prevent slave labor abuse of the undead, for whom the official, politically correct term is a "revenant".

    Archive 2008-03-01

  • But in "Exit Ghost," Zuckerman feels like a "revenant" while walking the streets of present-day Manhattan, and he's not the only shade around.

    The Rake’s Progress Giving Up The Ghost

  • One seems to see him, a languid-limbed "revenant," with heavy-lidded drowsy eyes and voluptuous lips, emerging all swathed and wrapped in costly cerements out of the tomb of some Babylonian king.

    Suspended Judgments Essays on Books and Sensations

  • It may not be too great a flight of imagination to conceive our noble 'revenant' not forgetful of the great troubles of his own day, and anxious to know how often London had been burned down since his time, and how often the plague had carried off its thousands.

    Lectures and Essays

  • Since the downfall of the Empire he has lived a sort of Bohemian existence in Paris, where his striking resemblance to Louis Napoleon has won for him the nickname of "the ghost" (le revenant).

    Lippincott's Magazine, Vol. 22, August, 1878

Comments

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  • A sadly underrated word. I love this word.

    May 3, 2007

  • A visible ghost or animated corpse that was believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living. (Wikipedia)

    May 22, 2008

  • Also: "someone who returns from a long absence". How would you contrast this with "prodigal"?

    February 24, 2009

  • With their revenant banks now underwritten by the government, the executives took a luxury holiday in Prodigal.

    February 24, 2009

  • Oh, look! WeirdNet added its all-time favorite definition here: "(n): a human being."

    February 24, 2009

  • Yeah, someone should tag those. It would be great to have a list of all the words WeirdNet defines as "a human being."

    February 24, 2009

  • Good idea. I've been tagging words as "weirdnet" but that's not specific enough.

    February 24, 2009

  • Question mark in tag is borky bork bork, yanno.

    February 24, 2009

  • Yup. I fixed it.

    February 24, 2009

  • Dawn-sniffing revenant,

    Plodder through midnight rain,

    Question me again.

    from "Casualty" by Seamus Heaney

    June 11, 2010