pass / pass away [=die] / passing [=death]

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HajiSahib

Banned
Punjabi/Urdu - Pakistan
Hello

We use "pass away" to mean "die".

My uncle has passed away.

Can I just say

My uncle has passed.


Thank you.
 
  • Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    My uncle has passed.
    That version is acceptable in some versions of English, but not generally. Out of context, it is ambiguous.

    My uncle has passed (away, ie died).
    My uncle has passed (his university exams).
    My uncle has passed (ie driven past, sailed past, walked past, etc).
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    The Oxford English Dictionary has references for "pass" = "die" from the 14th century onward, including Chaucer and Shakespeare. "He passed" for "he has died" is still widely used by Black Americans.

    1340 Ayenbite (1866) 241 (MED) Non ne wot huanne he ssel sterue ne huanne he ssel paci.
    c1395 Chaucer Squire's Tale 494 Myn harm I wol confessen er I pace.
    1417–18 in F. J. Furnivall Fifty Earliest Eng. Wills (1882) 38 Ȝyf þat I passe Rather þan sche.
    a1500 (▸?c1450) Merlin 55 (MED) Oon of yow two moste nede passe [Fr. morir] in this bataile.
    1608 Shakespeare King Lear xxiv. 308 Vex not his ghost, O let him passe .
    a1616 Shakespeare Henry VI, Pt. 2 (1623) iii. iii. 25 Disturbe him not, let him passe peaceably.
    a1752 T. Fitzgerald Poems (1781) 62 Cheerful we pass, to Heav'n's high Will resign'd.
    1850 Tennyson In Memoriam lviii. 84 He past; a soul of nobler tone.
    1878 J. R. Seeley Life Stein III. 560 About 6 o'clock [he] was seen to turn on his left side, breathe a deep sigh, and pass.
    1930 H. Belloc Wolsey x. 288 The clock struck eight, and immediately thereafter he passed.
    1959 A. Lomax Rainbow Sign 160 My first wife didn't live more than a year and six months. Then she passed.
    1969 M. Emmons Deep Rivers 42 The night he passed, I was with him by myself.
    1993 Times 25 Sept. (Weekend section) 7/1 Spiritualists believe that..a person who has died, or ‘passed’, becomes a ‘spirit’ which can communicate with the living through a medium.
    2014 M. Poland Keeper vi. 62 You will be glad to know he was well cared for before he passed.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I agree that "has passed" is used because I hear it occasionally. To me, it always sounds like euphemism – "has passed away" – taken too far ... or not far enough, really, to include the "away."

    Every time I hear "has passed," I wonder what sort of test the person took. :rolleyes:
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Although “pass away” (or even “pass on”) is more common, in my experience people — especially healthcare workers, police, etc. — do often describe someone as having “passed” to avoid saying that they’ve died.

    Oxford considers the usage North American euphemistic [no object].
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Is this then the euphemistic derivative of the euphemism? Eventually, it will become "He's."
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think it often does stop at He’s… or She’s… because people don’t like to impart such news. To take it a step further, on TV hospital soaps the doctor just approaches the nearest and dearest looking sad!
     

    HajiSahib

    Banned
    Punjabi/Urdu - Pakistan
    Please tell me,
    Is the use of "pass" meaning "die" informal English? Should I use it or not?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Please tell me,
    Is the use of "pass" meaning "die" informal English? Should I use it or not?
    You can use it if you wish. Or you can use “pass away”. Or you can just tell it like it is and use the word “die”. I think most of us would recommend the latter.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I am sorry, what do you mean?
    It's not informal or formal – it's just a euphemism for "die."

    WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English: euphemism:
    Rhetoric [uncountable] the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.
    Rhetoric [countable] word or expression so substituted: "To pass away'' is a euphemism for "to die.''
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I have a friend who always says "passed." It sounds weird to me, but she's a firm believer in the afterlife - she often communicates with the departed with the aid of a psychic, or so she says - so, to her, it means "passed over to the other side," not "passed away" or "died." Perhaps this usage is common among people who share her beliefs.

    (I try to keep our conversations focused on this world, but occasionally she mentions something her departed relatives told her.)
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Euphemisms for dying are are dangerous I once had a client ask me what to do with his father's passport, "now that he'd expired". The client was not a native English speaker and we had an embarrassing few moments while I thought that "he" meant the passport.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "He's passed." and "He's passed on." are both common in this part of the world (among Christians as well as believers in psychics).
     

    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    This more recent discussion has been added to a previous thread.
    Cagey, moderator

    Hi

    I read in a thread that "pass" can't be used as meaning "die". Instead, we use "pass away".
    But I saw this sentence in one of the news articles:
    Bollywood mourns the death of actress Sridevi's passing.

    I wonder why it is not "... Sridevi's passing away", as I have already said that the word "pass" alone can't be used to mean "die", e.g.,
    Sridevi's passed away.:tick:
    Sridevi's passed.:cross:


    Thanks a lot
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    "Bollywood mourns the death of actress Sridevi's passing/passing away" -- this sentence doesn't make any sense with either "passing" or "passing away", Lun. The sentence uses the phrase "the death of Sridevi's passing away".:confused: That is like saying "the death of her death", which doesn't make any sense to me.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I have recently heard plain 'pass' used this way, but it's not common. However, as a noun 'passing' would be more common than 'passing away'. (And of course you can't have the death of someone's passing - leave out one of the two words for death.)
     

    Tyrion Lann

    Senior Member
    INDIA -Hindi
    Bollywood mourns the death of actress Sridevi.
    Bollywood still mourns Sridevi's passing.
    But it is beyond my comprehension why both " the death" & " passing" have been used.
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I have heard 'passing' used as a noun instead of death, but not 'passing away'.

    My feeling is that when 'pass' is a verb/participle, 'away' or 'on' is often used in more formal speech because 'passed' on its own sounds as if it should be transitive and somehow, subconsciously we expect an object since 'pass' is used transitively as a euphemism for other things
     

    Tyrion Lann

    Senior Member
    INDIA -Hindi
    I have heard 'passing' used as a noun instead of death, but not 'passing away'.

    My feeling is that when 'pass' is a verb/participle, 'away' or 'on' is often used in more formal speech because 'passed' on its own sounds as if it should be transitive and somehow, subconsciously we expect an object since 'pass' is used transitively as a euphemism for other things
    Passing is a noun,too.
    The passing of the old years. The death or end of someone or something .
     

    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    I am very sorry ... I made the mistake in the OP. I was actually going to write this:
    Bollywood mourns the actress Sridevi's passing.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Bollywood mourns the actress Sridevi's passing.
    Because "Sridevi" is in apposition to "the actress" It should be written "the actress's, Sridevi's, passing" This construction should be avoided because of the confusion of the genitive 's'.

    However, if "Sridevi's" is removed from the original, then the sentence is "Bollywood mourns the actress passing." -> in this construction/context, "passing loses its meaning of "dying".

    The correct construction is "Bollywood mourns the passing of actress Sridevi."
     

    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    Did you read the whole thread?
    Yes, I have, but I'm confused - can't reach a conclusion.
    Perhaps:
    Pass (as a verb) on its own as meaning die isn't common in BrE.
    Passing (as a noun) on its own as meaning die is common in BrE.

    Am I right?
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    Because "Sridevi" is in apposition to "the actress" It should be written "the actress's, Sridevi's, passing".
    I beg to differ. It's not a case of apposition but "actress" is a descriptor/title there, so there shouldn't be any comma after "actress", nor should there be any apostrophe with "actress". However, the definite article before "actress" can be dropped, especially in journalistic writing.
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    I beg to differ. It's not a case of apposition but "actress" is a descriptor/title there, so there shouldn't be any comma after "actress", nor should there be any apostrophe with "actress". However, the definite article before "actress" can be dropped, especially in journalistic writing.
    :thumbsup: 100% right.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I beg to differ. It's not a case of apposition but "actress" is a descriptor/title there,
    I see why you say that but it remains an awkward construction that should be avoided: the death was not "the {actress Sridevis'} passing" as this implies that, e.g. "the {wife/writer/philanthorpist Sridevi's} passing" has yet to happen.

    I can hear "Actress Sridevi was famous" where "actress" is used adjectivally to distinguish her from all other Sridevis but the logic behind it is "If we did not add "actress" then nobody would know why we are reporting this." This logic is circular, because if she weren't well-known, then the death would not be particularly publicsed - the "actress" distinction therefore becomes irrelevant.

    I understand "the actress Sridevi died" as "Sridevi, who was an actress, died." in which "who was an actress" is a nondefining clause - as it is non-defining, then it is offset by commas, in the way that appositional noun phrases are.

    However, at the end of the day, I say no more than "This construction should be avoided because of the confusion of the genitive 's'."
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    I understand "the actress Sridevi died" as "Sridevi, who was an actress, died." in which "who was an actress" is a nondefining clause - as it is non-defining, then it is offset by commas, in the way that appositional noun phrases are.
    Hmm, the problem with that is that then we get "The actress died" or "Bollywood mourns the death of the actress", which seems to suggest there is only one actress in India/the world. The non-defining part is extra information and can be dropped without changing the meaning, you know.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    You yourself said that "Sridevi is in apposition" to "the actress". And, in the original sentence too, "the actress" comes before "Sridevi".
    Hmmm... I think you might be missing my point - that is perhaps my fault.

    I don't want to take this too far, but there are two examples

    "The actress, Sridevi, died" -> "The actress, and the one I mean is Sridevi, died" -> this is clear apposition "Sridevi" adds information to "The actress" without this, we get the rather vague sentence that would never be used as a title in the media - who concentrate on big names.
    and
    "Sridevi, the actress, died" -> "Sridevi, who was an actress, died", in which "who was an actress" almost has the meaning of "and for those of you who have not been living in this world for some time, I will tell you that she was an actress." Here, it is not so clear that the clause (reduced to "the actress") is in apposition but the clause serves a lesser purpose as it is additional, non-essential, information.

    Again, I come back to the awkwardness of "the actress Sridevi's death" when "Bollywood mourns the passing of actress Sridevi." is so much clearer, and to me, more elegant.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, I have, but I'm confused - can't reach a conclusion.
    Perhaps:
    Pass (as a verb) on its own as meaning die isn't common in BrE.
    Passing (as a noun) on its own as meaning die is common in BrE.
    It's my experience that 'pass', 'pass on' and 'pass away' are all used as euphemisms for die. Sometimes we hear 'passed over'. The comments referred to these usages.
    'Passing' is used as a euphemism for death.

    I can't stand any of them, but that is a purely personal attitude. I sacked a lawyer who kept talking about my 'passing', putting on a mournful face and lowering her voice, despite having been asked to stop it.
    Most of the people I count as my equals use 'die' and 'death'.

    The use of euphemisms tends to be related to social status.

    I have no idea about Indian-English. Mention of death or dying might be socially unacceptable.
     
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    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Hmmm... I think you might be missing my point - that is perhaps my fault.
    Maybe British English is incapable of this sort of structure? In American English there is absolutely nothing unremarkable about a sentence like "His great-grandfather was the author Nathaniel Hawthorne" or "She was interred next to the author Victor Hugo."
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Lun, I think I might have thought of that for myself, if there were a generational difference. On the contrary, it's mostly the elderly, as they prefer to be called by you kids, or 'older generation', who aren't used to calling things by their 'proper' name, for want of a better general word.

    I am not at all typical of my age group.

    When I was young, the word cancer was taboo; only the highly educated knew and used medical terms. That lawyer was in her mid-forties. Of course she didn't want to put any clients off. When it comes to will-making most clients are older I guess. (That wasn't her only offence, by the way, but it would have been enough.)

    Maybe British English is incapable of this sort of structure? In American English there is absolutely nothing unremarkable about a sentence like "His great-grandfather was the author Nathaniel Hawthorne" or "She was interred next to the author Victor Hugo."
    I am perfectly happy with the above uses, and with the use of ''s' in " (the)actress Sridevi's passing". I'd compare it to a title: "Prime Minister Tchreesare May's government". It's not 'in apposition' according to the general definition.
    "Bollywood mourns the actress Sridevi's passing."
    "The Panthéon contains the author Victor Hugo's tomb."

    I don't see much of a difference.
    Nor me. None, in fact. It's a headline anyway, so 'the' might have been left out.
     
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    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I never use pass or passing to mean die or death, though I understand them whan I hear them used. The normal euphemism in Britain is pass(ing) away. Personally, I wouldn't use that either, except as a metaphor such as "the age when trousers were worn only by men has now passed away".

    Pass and passing are used mainly by people of specific religious views, such as Southern Baptists or Spiritualists. We also hear passing over, passing to the other side and passing on.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I’m surprised by some of the opinions here about what is and what’s not a valid euphemism for dying, and who uses such euphemisms.

    As a verb, pass, pass away, pass on and pass over are all in use — and they can all be found in the Oxford Dictionary (and others). The noun passing is also commonly used, but mostly without away/on/over.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    In my experience 'passing' and the rest is in common use; I can't imagine there are that many Southern Baptist types in the somewhat godless UK, but maybe there are more spiritualists than I would have thought judging by the popularity of those afterlife TV shows. Some religions forbid spiritualism I think but belief in an spirit afterlife doesn't always go along with belief in a god as far as I can see.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I’m surprised by some of the opinions here about what is and what’s not a valid euphemism for dying, and who uses such euphemisms.

    As a verb, pass, pass away, pass on and pass over are all in use
    Of those, I would say that only "pass away" has enough currency to call it "idiomatic". The others are possible but rare and, when spoken by a non-native speaker, are likely to be misunderstood.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree that “pass away” is still the most common euphemism in the UK (see #6).

    But I don’t think it’s true that the American-influenced “pass” (on its own) is particularly rare. I’m pretty sure that’s what the paramedics said to me when my mother died not so long ago.
     
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