died of or died from

TrentinaNE

Senior Member
USA
English (American)
gisele73 said:
Another question regarding this. When someone dies because he/she was sick, is it correct to say "she died of cancer" or "she died from cancer"?...I think I've heard both, but don't know if both are correct.
Thought I'd better start a new thread for this, as it could digress quite a bit from the made of/made from discussion.

In AE, gisele, we say died of cancer. I sometimes hear died from when there is a brief, direct cause of death, like someone dying from pneumonia (usually while in the hospital for something else). When the cause of death of drawn-out (as is usually the case for cancer), died of tends to be used more -- which is interesting, because by my logic, dying from something makes more sense. :confused:

I'm sure someone will now post all kinds of counter-examples. :D

Elisabetta
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Yes, people die of XXXX here too, not from XXXX.
    "She died of a fever, for no one could save her, and that was the end of sweet Molly Malone..." - sung in the minor key of your choice:D
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    "Died of cancer" sounds strange to me. I would say "died from cancer". I'll now think on to determine why!!

    Edit - interesting, I see I posted at the same time as Panj, so perhaps it's not a AE-BE thing.

    Edit edit - google prefers "died of cancer" over "died from cancer" by 1,550,000 to 160,000 so is clearly much more common, but 160,000 is not at all inconsiderable.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    :DTimpeac,

    I fully agree with you.


    Yesterday you wrote, in another thread,

    "hottest day in the year" gets a not inconsiderable google hit of 362
    Thus I have to ask what the boundary is for inconsiderable:D



    dashing to hide behind boulder,
    cuchu
     

    blueberrymuffin

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    IN / FROM

    • The family died in the hurricane.
    • The family died from the hurricane.
    I've heard people use both IN and FROM in sentences like these. Do these prepositions indicate two different ideas?

    My guess is:
    1. IN is used when s/o dies as the result of winds, rain, the hurricane itself.
    2. FROM is used when s/o dies FROM this terrible, bad, bad hurricane, as a result of the damage caused by the hurricane (no food, diseases, etc...), not necessarily from the hurricane itself.

    Am I way off track? :rolleyes:
     

    Aupick

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Not way off. :D

    I'd say that from indicates a cause: the family died because of the hurricane, just as you can die from a disease, from the flu virus, from a burst appendix, etc. In the second sentence death could have been caused by the food, diseases, or anything else brought on by the hurricane (trauma, a couple of years later, even), but death could also have been the direct result of the hurricane (being blown off the roof, crushed by a wall, drowned in the floods).

    And I'd say that in indicates a location (in place or time): the family died during the hurricane (while it was still raging) and in the area directly affected by the hurricane. Which suggests, as you say, that the hurricane was directly responsible.

    But these distinctions are blurry, not strict.
     

    Isotta

    Senior Member
    English, Hodgepodge
    I'd add "died from the hurricane" is not as common, and my ear is not terribly comfortable with it. You'd likely talk about the hurricane's victims instead, or how many lives the hurricane claimed. That said, I'd say that "died from the hurricane" insinuates a general toll as a result of all factors that ensued, primary or secondary.


    And "died in the hurricane" has been covered.

    Z.
     

    blueberrymuffin

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Thank you. You have both been very helpful. However, I am including several quotes in which both IN and FROM are used in speaking about the same subject.

    "Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco gave the grim news that "thousands" of people died in the hurricane and its aftermath in New Orleans and surrounding parishes, though she said no official count had been compiled."
    Quote from a CNN article.

    "Thousands may have died in the hurricane, which President Bush has described as "one of the worst natural disasters" the US had seen."
    Quote from BBC News


    "At least two people died from the hurricane, struck by falling trees or tree limbs, authorities said."
    Quote from click2weather.com

    "Sadness, grief and/or anger over loved ones who have died from the hurricane or its aftermath"
    Quote from Guidance for Difficult Times by University Health Services

    "Many of the people who died from Hurricane Katrina did not evacuate because they did not want to leave their animals."
    Quote from PBS.org
    .
    As these are all trustworthy sources, I believe the grammar is correct in all of them. So, my question was more about the differences there could be between these two prepositions being used in the same context. I think you've helped me understand the possible differences.

    Thank you.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    If they didn't die "in the hurricane", but passed away later, then they died "as a result of the hurricane".
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    maxiogee said:
    If they didn't die "in the hurricane", but passed away later, then they died "as a result of the hurricane".
    Ah interesting nuance Maxiogee:thumbsup:

    I was going to say that "died from the hurricane" sounded funny because you "die from an illness" but "in an accident". But as you say, if you die later as a direct result of an accident then you can't be said to have died in that accident (read hurricane) but could be said to have died of it.

    It still sounds a bit colloquial though - I would prefer "as a result of".
     

    jdenson

    Senior Member
    USA / English
    blueberrymuffin said:
    Thank you. You have both been very helpful. However, I am including several quotes in which both IN and FROM are used in speaking about the same subject.


    As these are all trustworthy sources, I believe the grammar is correct in all of them. So, my question was more about the differences there could be between these two prepositions being used in the same context. I think you've helped me understand the possible differences.

    Thank you.
    The sources which you quote might very well be "trustworthy" in their reporting of the news, but to assume that their reporting is grammatical would be to make a monumental error.
    A person might die from drowning, from a blow to the head, from injuries suffered during a hurricane, etc., but one does not die from a hurricane. I once heard a respected reporter for National Public Radio say that a recently deceased foreign dignitary was "laying in state", but that didn't make it so.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    jdenson said:
    The sources which you quote might very well be "trustworthy" in their reporting of the news, but to assume that their reporting is grammatical would be to make a monumental error.
    A person might die from drowning, from a blow to the head, from injuries suffered during a hurricane, etc., but one does not die from a hurricane. I once heard a respected reporter for National Public Radio say that a recently deceased foreign dignitary was "laying in state", but that didn't make it so.
    Careful Jdenson - I tend to agree with you but your statements are sweeping to say the least. You say that "one does not die from a hurricane". Why not? According to whom? What is your evidence? At least blueberrymuffin has produced a variety of sources which does not necessarily prove a usage as being "right" but certainly at least serves as evidence that the usage exists.
     

    jdenson

    Senior Member
    USA / English
    timpeac said:
    Careful Jdenson - I tend to agree with you but your statements are sweeping to say the least. You say that "one does not die from a hurricane". Why not? According to whom? What is your evidence? At least blueberrymuffin has produced a variety of sources which does not necessarily prove a usage as being "right" but certainly at least serves as evidence that the usage exists.
    Hi Timpeac:
    I don't deny that the usage exists; all sorts of muddled, hazy, confused usages exist. Is is correct grammar to say "he died from the hurricane"? Certainly. But what does it tell us? Is is enough? Not if the purpose is to actually tell us something. He drowned, he was crushed by a falling tree, he was struck by flying debris, he was trampled by a pack of terrified nutria during the hurricane. Now we know something, and that's better.
    (And you're absolutely right; I have a fondness for the sweeping statement.)

    All the best.
     

    grumpus

    Senior Member
    English U.S.
    Hi All,
    yeah, died "from the hurricane" sounds strange to me. I would also
    say "died in the hurricane", it's implicit that something resulting from the hurricane killed the victims.

    Grumpus
     

    John Doe III

    New Member
    English, United States of America
    Both are correct and accepted to mean the same thing.


    Mod note.
    This thread was formerly two.
    In this post, both refers to:
    ... died of cancer ...
    ... died from cancer ...
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Here are some comments from the OED about prepositions used with die.

    To die of a malady, hunger, old age, or the like;
    by violence, the sword, his own hand;
    from a wound, inattention, etc.;
    through neglect;
    on or upon the cross, the scaffold,
    at the stake,
    in battle;
    for a cause, object, reason, or purpose,
    for the sake of one;
    formerly also
    with a disease, the sword, etc.;
    on his enemies (i.e. falling dead above them).

    In earlier use the prepositions were employed less strictly.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    A common use of "died of" in Dublin is in the jocular ....
    Q: "What did he die of?"
    A: "He died of a Tuesday!"
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Just to add a little further confusion, my phone battery just died on me. PCs, disc drives, cars, CD players, gas central heating boilers ..... All of these have died on me.

    I have also heard it said of people.
     

    TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    But "died on" does not specify a reason for the death. ;) And I'd advise non-native speakers not to say "died on me" about a person. At least in AE, it has a very specific connotation that can seem a little flippant.

    Ma Kettle: Me and Pa was all set to finally enjoy us some retirement, and then he up 'n' died on me!
     
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