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Gretchen Gantzer

I, also, have been puzzled (and annoyed) by the term "went missing." I teach English (vocabulary, grammar and literature)to sixth and eighth grade students, and would mark this "incorrect usage" if I saw it in their writing. It seems to have become totally acceptable in newspapers and on television. I know we are a nation of "borrowed" words, but this one offends the ears.

Crawford Kilian

Gretchen, this is a British expression that may sound strange to other English speakers, but it seems OK to Canadians.

The more I think about it, the more I suspect its origins lies in the military. Some soldiers are "missing in action" because they've been separated from their comrades in combat.

But if a soldier has "gone missing," he's made himself absent without official leave. And if goods on sale have "gone missing," someone has taken them.

D. Schwartz

Why does there need to be an alternative to "gone" or "went"? This overused and new-- at least in this country--phrase drives me nuts as well. It sounds illiterate and superfluous. It always used to be simply: "He is missing", or "He has been missing for two days", "Did you hear Bozo is missing?", etc. Another related phrase in the same context is, "He turned up missing". Is there not a rather obvious contradiction there?

--D. Schwartz

Virginia Paschke

When was the term, "went missing" first used. I thought it a fairly recent expression.

Elaine Tustin

Thanks for the clarification. Went missing has been bothering me ever since I first heard it on TV. UK or Canadians can have it. In our country it's incorrect and it will never sound proper.

Philip Aggen

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who thinks this phrase is poor grammar. Every time I hear it on TV, radio or read it in printed form, I email the source and tell them what I think of the phrase. I hope it doesn't become an accepted part of our language.


Thank you for explaining this phrase. Everytime I hear it, it sounds like someone is scratching their fingernails on a blackboard!

Mohammad Shakeel Ahmec

I Would like to Submitted one Application for your kind information

Crawford Kilian

Hello, Mohammad--if you would like to ask a question, just email me at [email protected]


The first time I heard the phrase "go missing" was in the Coen Brothers' film Fargo. Since then, I have anguished the thought of it really being a Minnesota colloquialism. Please understand, the entire population of Minnesota shared a collective cringe from the exposition of our amusing diction: a malady still suffered by many today. Thank you for relieving a small portion of my discomfort.


Just on a whim, I plugged in "went missing" on my computer and was delighted to find I am not alone in my intense dislike of this relatively new phrase.


...if, at over 60-years old it could be called new.

Don Lacer

I'm an American proofreader/translator living in Japan for the past six years. I've come across this expression all too often while living in Japan. I can't remember a single person in the U.S. while I was growing up or attending university in the U.S. that ever used such a strange expression. Oh, sorry about that. I meant to say college. The English language is being bombarded by globalization. It makes me cringe when I read something over here that is written in a mixed style. When I was teaching English I often would tell my students to choose one language style and write in it, but to never mix the styles. But then again for me "there are fish in the pond" not fishes.

Crawford Kilian

Having lived in Canada for 39 of my 65 years, "went missing" doesn't grate on me as it evidently does on some. It's a frequently used phrase here and no doubt elsewhere in the Commonwealth.

The globalization of English is as inevitable as the Londonization of 14th-century English dialects under the impact of Chaucer and other urban writers. Since modern English has eagerly swiped words from every other language it's had any contact with, I don't see much point in resisting words and phrases from within English itself.

To write in one style only implies knowing all the other styles...and then deliberately forgoing the chance to enliven one style with expressions from another. I don't know what one would gain by such purity.


Thank you for the clarification on "went missing", "gone missing" etc. I suppose "going to hospital" and "calling the real estate" fall in the same UK category?


As do many other people, I find this expression silly and obnoxious. The first time I heard it was in 2001 in news reports in reference to the Taliban's excuse for failing to hand over bin Laden. The expression unfortunately has caught on.


OMG I can't stand that phrase! It makes me mad, and I want to hurl something at the television when I hear it!!! They almost enjoy saying it. With little sun frekels on there face when they enphasise the word we(NT) bahahahahaha I hate it!


At last a forum for this offensive phrase!
How would you reverse the " went missing"? Came found?

Crawford Kilian

I confess I remain surprised by the passions unleashed by "went missing." Here in Canada it's a routine phrase (heard it recently on CBC radio about a woman whose body was found a few days later).

An "isogloss" is the line between two dialects with different usages. Evidently the 49th parallel is an isogloss between those who use "went missing" and those who don't!


It seems like a recent adoption of an established British/Canadian phrase by American newscasters. Maybe it's a result of cross-pollenization within CNN and other "world news" organizations? The phrase irritated me when I first heard it (2-3 years ago), but mainly because it seemed to be an affectation coming from Americans trying to be cool. Now it seems to have entered the mainstream in America and does not sound so affected in most cases. As for its dubious structure, it belongs in an unnamed category with phrases like "all of a sudden" (or, equally inexplicably, in some places, "all the sudden"). Maybe "structurally dubious colloquialisms that, nonetheless, deliver their intended payload."

Lee Allaben

I don't care where it came from or what it's English origins are. In my mind it will always remain a bastardization of the English language. To discover that it originated in England, of all places, horrifies me! Simply put, it is a stupid phrase!

Janis Smoot

It is only recently that I have noticed the use of that awful expression, and everytime I hear it or read it in the news, I am offended. I expect the grammar of our news reporters to maintain high standards and the acceptance of this redundant usage is terrible. Because of the overuse of the expression, I had begun to think that I missed something while in shcool. It sounds awful.

Philip Aggen

Like many people, I am irritated by the use of the phrase "went missing" because it is a degradation of the English language. When I hear a reporter use the phrase, I note the time and the story. When I am on the computer, I e-mail the news program and express my objection to this phrase. I would encourage others to do the same and maybe we can keep this ignorant phrase off the TV news.

Sandy Kaczmarski

I am so irritated by the "went missing" phrase that has crept into our newscasts and printed material. I thought being lost was a state of being (he is lost, he is missing). I don't quite see how it can be an action. I find it very distressing that somehow this abomination has crept into our language from out of nowhere and is being accepted and promoted by the media. Stop the insantiy! Nobody goes anywhere to get lost!


The day I hear an American reporter talk about the day that Jimmy Hoffa went missing from a car park is the day I shoot the tv. Or I should I say telly?

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