What Does ‘Revenant’ Even Mean, Anyway?

He is literally the revenant. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

As Leonardo DiCaprio embarks on his press tour for The Revenant, two questions are on everyone’s mind: One, at what point does Leo’s quest for an Oscar make him a threat to himself and others; and two, what the heck is a revenant, anyway? The answer to that first one is sadly unknowable, but fortunately, the second is within our reach! A revenant, which comes from the French term for “ghost” — literally, “a thing that has returned” — is a person who has come back from the dead, or, less scarily, after a long absence. It’s a fitting title for the movie, which follows DiCaprio’s attempts to get revenge on the men who left him for dead following a bear attack. And if you’re currently rolling your eyes and saying, “Everyone knows what a revenant is,” you’re likely a fan of the amazing French TV series The Returned (Les Revenants), which tells the story of a mysterious town where the dead have come back exactly as they were when they died. Fewer bear attacks in that one, though.

What Does ‘Revenant’ Mean?