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The Limits Of The Phrase: Passed Away

Reporting on the death of television actor Cory Monteith, Andrea Mandrell wrote for USA Today that “the Glee star had passed away due to an apparent drug overdose.”

When I think of the phrase “passed away”, I think of someone dying peacefully, perhaps in their sleep. I don’t think of people spending their last few minutes desperately taking an addictive and dangerous drug in order to alter their states of consciousness.

What are the limits of the phrase “passed away”? Can we say that a person “passed away” in an accident involving an industrial rock crushing machine? Has a person who died of a bullet wound in the brain “passed away”?

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