Life Hack

Knowing the difference between ‘die of’ and ‘die from’

By Nompumelelo Sibanda

WITH COVID-19 claiming lives in Zimbabwe and beyond, there has been a heated debate in one of the Zimbabwe Voice News WhatsApp groups whether people die from COVID-19 or die of COVID-19.

According to Question & Answer web database Quora, there is indeed a huge difference between dying of something and dying from something.

To die of AIDS, of bird flu, of hunger, of a heart attack, of cancer, of pneumonia, of childbirth, of a broken heart, of sorrow, of love, of curiosity.

To die from car/road accidents, from disease, from illness, from stroke, from a wound, from smoking, from drinking, from sudden death, from a weapon, from injury, from war, from religion…

To die by (through the means of) the sword, by suicide, by overdose, by a bullet…

To die of: Use this when referring to the direct cause, such as cancer, or heart attack.

To die from: Use when referring to an indirect agent.

So – he died from exposure to radiation (and then the radiation produced cancer, which caused the death).

  • The sheep died from the heat (which led to dehydration and so, death).

SUMMARY: Both sources agree on to die ofcancer or heart attack. The first source did not give reasons unlike the second source, but one can deduce from the long classification made by the first source. The first source adds, to die bywhich the second one did not touch.

Google analytics appear to prove that both sources are “correct” with to die of cancer or heart attack.

There are no more sources substantially discussing this issue.

ANALYSIS

Of implies possession. The cause of death “possessed” him.

  • To die of AIDS, of bird flu, of hunger, of a heart attack, of cancer, of pneumonia, of childbirth, of stress, of overeating, of a broken heart, of sorrow, of love, of curiosity.

From implies originThe cause of death points to “origin.”

  • To die from car/road accidents, from disease, from illness, from a wound, from drinking poison, from a weapon, from injury, from war, from religion.

NOTE : The use of died of and died from is not exclusive for some of the reasons. It depends on the nature of the cause. Simply remember that ofrefers to “possession” and from refers to“origin.”

  • For a heart attackone can die of a heart attack and one can die from a heart attack.
    • One can die of a heart attack, if, for example, it has crippled the person for several years, and then he dies. The heart attack has “possessed” him.
    • On the other hand, one can die from a heart attack, if the person has one and only one heart attack and from it, the person dies. The heart attack is theorigin of the death.

Now, we hope the difference is crystal-clear! – Zimbabwe Voice 🔺

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