Friday, April 01, 2005


There are some expressions I just hate to hear used.
I just cringe when I hear “we `lost` Joe or Jim or whoever it is, last year (or whenever)” when people are talking about someone who has died.
To me (and I may be wrong because I`m not good at English or grammar, I just write as I speak!), “lost” is something that`s my fault. I`ve lost an item, or something that belongs to me, because I had it and did something with it, perhaps put it somewhere and lost it – if you follow what I mean.
A person is an individual not belonging literally to anyone. We may be very attached to them, but they don`t belong to us, so how can we lose them?
We can lose the physical presence of them, the friendship, the companionship. We can feel totally at a loss without them. But, we don`t lose the memories, and thoughts of them. So in that sense too, we haven`t lost them, have we?

Wonder if others find the same, or what expressions others cringe at?


Dave said...

'A person is an individual not belonging literally to anyone' quite right. But that individual may belong to a group or organisation; be one of its members. And so that group can say 'we lost X last year' meaning that this person was lost to their membership.
An indivdual also 'belongs' to a family and a community; they too have syffered aloss to their numbers when the person dies.
I don't mean this in an accounting way, purely 'oh dear, we're one down on our numbers' but that someone who was part of that group is no longer there - they are missed; 'lost' is not an inappropriate word to use.
And I may well use it myself.

Dave said...

My dictionary gives 11 definitions for the word 'lose'. The first is the careless act with which you associate the word. But there are ten other meanings of the word, including ' The condition of being bereaved of someone'.
So if someone says they've lost someone, that is a quite correct useage.
I agree with Dave on this one.
Sorry if it makes you cringe.

Ivy said...

To respond to the first comment above....
I can see how `lost` is appropriate when saying it as `lost a member of our group / organisation.
But I suppose I`m more thinking along a personal line of a one to one basis.
Perhaps too, it goes back to my childhood and being in the wrong if one loses something. Thus the word lost makes me feel guilty that its something I`ve done. (and when used in this context of death, it`s not)

This Blogging certainly makes one think. I`d not realised that before writing this.