...a tragic, unnecessary loss of life


Senior Member
Malaysia English
The following is from The New Paper, Singapore.

The suicide bomb attack in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Tuesday is another "tragic, unnecessary loss of life", but it is unlikely to be the last such incident," said Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

Shouldn't "lives" be used instead of "life"?

  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    No, "loss of life" is fine. "Loss of lives" would not be incorrect, but we more commonly use "life" in its uncountable sense here.

    Minnesota Guy

    Senior Member
    American English - USA
    "Loss of life" is an idiomatic phrase, referring to fatalities. It sounds as though it should refer to the death of a single person, but in practice I think it's always used to refer to the death of more than one person.

    For example: "The famine caused great loss of life"; "The fire was destructive, but there was no loss of life." I'm sure an online search would find other examples.


    Senior Member
    English (American)
    It's the same collective "life" as in "Life flourishes in the rainforest." We don't say "Lives flourish in the rainforest," even though we are obviously talking about many different living creatures.