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Margaret Ann Wood

I was raised by a mother that was born in London, England. I have been in that country many times over the years. I've NEVER heard the term "went missing" from anyone. My hair crawls every time I hear that term used on TV.


US television presenters (we no longer have reporters on television) employ the phrase because they think using it makes them sound clever. No doubt, they picked the phrase up while watching the BBC, television news with news reporters.


Whenever our local "news readers" report someone has gone missing I assume they're trying to sound sophisticated. I take it more as pretentious.

I'm probably a few years off, but I've always associated the appearance of the "gone missing" phraseology with the US release of the Mick Dundee/Aussie movies, and just assumed that that our news readers(as apparently others in society do)thought it sounded "cool" to use a foreign phrase.

Personally, I'd take "is missing" over "gone missing" anytime!


It grates on my nerves too when they say 'went missing'! It doesn't exactly make sense, does it? When one turns out to be missing, what does 'going' (or 'went'), an active verb, have to do with it!?I think I very much prefer the standard American "turned up missing" over any other expression! I wish that 'went missing' would 'go missing', please..!

S. Pace

"Went missing" what??? She "went missing her glasses?" Just about as ridiculous an expression I can imagine. I thought it usually applied to ships lost at sea. The sad part is, just today, a local reporter used the expression "went missing" 3 times in her coverage of a story about a woman who disappeared 3 months ago.

Add "went missing" to inane expressions, along with "slept in"....(Slept in what??)


To me, the term "went missing" as used by our TV news reporters, sounds pretentious and phony and is a rediculous attempt to sound British and classy. And what about "indeed", which came into play during the extensive coverage of Princess Diana's funeral by the BBC ten years ago. Yes, it sounds marverlous, but WE are NOT British and only sound silly trying to ape them. I hope the BBC is suitably flattered.


Sorry. I was so perturbed during my recent posting, I typed rediculous instead of ridiculous. Sorry.

Jay Whipple

Terrible abuse of the American/English language.
Goes to show how dumbed down our American media is.


I too find it irritating when a broadcaster uses "went missing" to discribe some one who has disappeared. But lately I have noticed a trend even worse because it is not a borrowed word, it is a mispronunciation. That is the word "specifically". Everyday I will here some on the scene reporter say "pacifically". At first I thought I was hearing it wrong, but I Tivoed it and alas that is what they are saying. Has anyone else noticed this?


Mispronunciation turning into usage is a problem. I haven't heard "pacifically," but I have noticed "hone in on": The governor honed in on the tax issue.

This should be "homed in on," based on the WW II use of radio beacons by military aircraft. A bomber returning from Europe would pick up a distinct radio signal from its home base in England, and "home in" on it regardless of weather and visibility problems.

Can people think of other such widespread mispronunciations? "Nucular" doesn't count!


I, too, hate the expression, "went missing." Every time I hear it, it's like nails down a blackboard. That - and "an historial event." These phrases just sound wrong.


With respect to the "hone in on" issue, have a look at the eggcorn database.


I am so glad I ran accross this site. I have noticed this in the media lately & it has been driving me crazy. I keep asking myself why it sounds so incorrect & I have also asked others, who have said it sounds incorrect to them too. Thank you all for clarifying where its origin is from. My next inquiry is: Can we send it back?? It just does not sound grammatically correct---I keep wanting to make red circles around it in the paper like my English teachers did!!!


Fingernails on the black board does not even come close to my cringe when i hear a comentator say little Sally Ann "went missing". I have to say i hope she stays that way, until she becomes un-disappeared. Common useage tests are a slippery slope; witness a recent national TV reproter on scene that said the phrase.. Little billy bob "went diaappeared". Now that just does it!!


I believe I have the answer to how this saying became so widely used in th U.S. It all started when John Walsh from Americas Most Wanted did a series of reports from the U.K. and Australia and they used that term often .I believe he brought the usage to the American media circles .I am also annoyed by the term .Are we going to start calling our elevatoers the "lift " or the trunk of our cars the "boot" .Knock it off ,we're Americans .


The phrase "went missing" seems perfectly correct to me as an Englishman; albeit not a particularly grammatically correct Englishman (as will probably become apparent as you read on).

Americanisms such as "can I get" instead of "may I have" or "fill out a form" rather than "fill in a form" are probably completely overlooked in the USA, despite their glaring grammatical errors, because they are the norm.

The list of offences goes on with the pronunciation of "Nuclear" as "Nucular", the apparent abscence of the letter "U" from the American alphabet, The ommision of the letter "Y" from the end of "really"...etc...etc...

I find it a bit offensive for people from another country to complain about the use of an English phrase when they are speaking the English language.


I forgot the over use of the letter "Z" as demonstrated in the word "bastardisation" above.


Sorry to post three times in a row, but something above caught my eye and amused me:

"a local reporter used the expression went missing 3 times in her coverage of a story about a woman who disappeared 3 months ago."

So you feel that it is more accurate to state that the woman vanished into thin air, as is implied by the use of the word "disappeared"?


Thanks for your comments, Mike. As Oscar Wilde observed, "The British and the Americans are two great peoples divided by the same language." What's accepted in one dialect can grate on speakers of the other.

The British "ise" and North American "ize" are a bit baffling...especially since we use "ize" for almost everything except "advertise," where the British use "advertize."


The expression "went missing" has been driving me crazy for years. The first time I ever heard the expression was in the movie Fargo back in 1996. I thought it was probably just a local expression used in that area of North Dakota. Since that movie came in 1996, usage of the expression has been steadily increasing by the news media presumably because of the popularity of the movie. I also think it's an attempt to appear "cool".


I'm amazed that this thread has now been running for four years, and that so many Americans detest the expression "gone missing." A language as worldwide as English is bound to develop many local dialects, with expressions that seem odd, illogical, or plain offensive to speakers of other dialects.

Here in Canada, for example, a bluff is not a cliff; it's a stand of trees on the prairie. And in my own province of BC, salt water is "saltchuck" to many of us, an inheritance from the old Chinook Jargon trade language.

No doubt we also inherited "gone missing" from the Brits, perhaps as a result of fighting in British wars since the Boer War. It is now such a standard Canadian expression that it turns up in every newscast when someone has vanished.

And it's not because people are trying to sound cool, or because they liked Fargo--it's because Canadian audiences understand the term and take it completely for granted.

Maybe it turned up in Fargo because Minnesotans listen to the CBC!

Alice Wessendorf

In the spirit of keeping things going on this ancient thread I will add that I too am incredibly annoyed by this phrase. Like other posters have said it surpasses fingernails on a chalkboard in its level of annoyance. Sadly, since this thread started, it has become an absolute standard on American TV and radio and in print. It's not going away kids. And neither is my hatred for it. (Except of course if it is spoken by one of our Northern Neighbors or friends across the pond. In which case it's your phrase...go for it :-))


To me, it seems that "went missing" is often more about the one doing the missing than it is about the one who is said to have gone missing.

Enrique Sanchez

Oh! I am so so happy to have found this forum. I have been in the USA since 1962. In all my years of studying this great language, I have never encountered the GONE/WENT MISSING conundrum until recently in the media! Are we then being invaded by Canadian speakers? Frankly, I SQUIRM every time I hear it or read it and WISH SO SOLEMNLY that it would go away and be found to be missing from the American lingo! (Was that correct usage?) ;)


Well, Enrique, Canadians are the invisible invaders of the US, noticeable only by their accents and their use of the expression "went missing." So you may have guessed the truth. :-)

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