Saturday , May 18 2024
Pass the hat. Pass the ammunition. But whatever you do, don't just "pass."

Let’s Stop “Passing” and Start Dying Again

I’ve had it with people “passing.” When someone dies, let’s not be afraid to say it: they’ve died. One thing they certainly haven’t done is “passed.” That doesn’t even make sense.

Unless you’re talking about a card game, “pass” is a transitive verb. It must have an object. One has to pass something. The football. The salt. The cemetery on the way to the hospital.

Of course I understand that when people say “pass” instead of “die” they’re using a shortened form of “pass away” or “pass on.” I’ve never liked those venerable euphemisms either, but they at least have the virtue of making some sort of sense. If you believe in an afterlife, passing away or passing on suggests transition from one place to another.

Merely to “pass,” on the other hand, means squat.

So if you simply must use a euphemism for the perfectly good, entirely inoffensive, and absolutely clear verb “to die,” use one of them.  If you want to be colorful and/or clichéd, you can even say “kicked the bucket.” “Expired.” “Gone to that great lexicon in the sky.” Anything.

Just no more “passing,” please.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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  1. Thank you for saying this. Every time I hear that someone “passed” I have to ask myself if they truly meant “passed gas.” Okay, that wasn’t kind, but I’ve had it with this term.

  2. For years and until recent years, have had I ever heard “passed”, I do prefer passed away. So to say but we are probably being politically correct by using “passed”, but prior to the last 5-6 years “passed” was only used by black people. I know, here comes, your are a racist rants. Just to be clear, just stating my 68 years with the usage of passed or passed away

  3. Sorry, first hand long term experience speaking here. 60 years ago and up until Obama was president ONLY black people used the term “passed” to mean die, died, passed on or passed away. I guess Obama “knew” that black people used/preferred the term, so HE thought he might better use it. But believe me, in HIS background, absolutely NO ONE, but NO ONE used this term, but to assure BLACKS that HE is TRULY a BONAFIDE black man, not an ARAB, which he IS he used the term passed. lol

  4. Agreed. I’m sick BEYOND VOMITING of all the ridiculous “political correctness.”

  5. Yeah I catch myself wanting to say passed what? Were they in college?

  6. Yes I’m sick of all the slang and abbreviations too (like DH and the ever present, extremely blashphemous OMG). And of course the F word (which I had never even heard until seeing in written on a bathroom wall in 6th grade around 1977) has become a normal part of every day conversation for many. Today’s society has absolutely RAPED and CORRUPTED the English language. And the political correctness agenda to suppress the Truth and make it unpopular has had a huge part in that destruction.

  7. As a child I remember being puzzled at hearing church ladies say “passed away” or “passed on.” What struck me at age 10 as weird just became tacky as I reached adulthood. Now I’m 75 and I’m confident that the “p” word has never “passed” my own lips. “Die” and its variations possess a poetic resonance that those silly terms can never approach.