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One of the examples in my English composition book (for learning to write my language's sentences in English) was "Why he committed suicide under such a good circumstance is an unsolved question.", but what I would have written would have been "Why he suicided...".

What's the difference between "commit suicide" and "suicide"? (I think I saw 'commit suicide' more than just 'suicide', and the spell checker of Google Chrome says that 'suicided' is not a word, even though I think it isn't wrong.)

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Compare this with "committed murder" and "murdered". Again synonyms, and both of these usages are fairly common. – Peter Shor Jun 26 '11 at 14:38
Maybe because suicide require such a strong intention so we have to use commit ? – Sarawut Positwinyu Jun 26 '11 at 14:54
@Peter Shor I'd like to see a comparison of usage between "commit murder" and "murder" without a direct object. I'd bet that "commit murder" is far more common. – JeffSahol Jun 26 '11 at 16:55
@Peter: Far from common. 'Murder' has been a verb since time immemorial; suicide has never been used as a verb by any educated native speaker in my experience. – Noldorin Jun 27 '11 at 21:13

6 Answers 6

up vote 24 down vote accepted

There is no difference semantically. The only difference is that "suicide" as a verb is so rare I have never seen it before; whereas "commit suicide" is common. I would advise against unusual usages in general: You might confuse people, which is ill-advised, and in this case it is totally non-constructive to the language.

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Thank you for the good information! – JiminP Jun 26 '11 at 13:57
Agreed, I've never heard or read the verb form of suicide. – Matthew Frederick Jun 26 '11 at 15:40
I’ve heard the verb form before, but only in a slightly tongue-in-cheek sense. – PLL Jun 26 '11 at 16:16
"She suicided in a very ugly manner." – kiamlaluno Jun 26 '11 at 16:35
@MT_Head: That depends on what that means. I can understand the verb in context, obviously, but I've never heard it used to mean "to commit suicide". On the other hand, I have read another usage where it means to drive someone [else] to suicide...… – FumbleFingers Jun 27 '11 at 2:46

"Commit Suicide" is falling out of usage since we use commit to infer a crime. eg: As others have mentioned "commit murder". Those in Suicide intervention and mental health advocacy do not use the phrase because it implies an illegal act. It is not illegal to die by suicide (a preferred phrase). Suicide is seen as a failure of society's safeguards more than an act of a crime by the person who has died.

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This is an interesting point, but it doesn't touch on the difference between "commit suicide" and "suicide." – Nathaniel Sep 24 at 18:35
Commit is hardly restricted to use with crimes. Just ask your girlfriend, she always wants you to commit. – Oldcat Sep 24 at 21:47

While there is no difference between "to commit suicide" and "to suicide" [1]. Note that "suicide" can also be used to refer to the subject of the suicide. So while you can say "He committed suicide" you could also say "He is a suicide".

([1] Although I would always use the first as it is, as has been said, far more common. )

As to why it is "committed" and not something else, I suspect it's one of two reasons.

The word, committed, has a finality associated with it. If you commit to something, you are making a pledge to do that thing and not go back on your pledge. Or, you may commit something to memory; the thought being that rather than it being a passing thing you have remembered, it is there for the long term.

Either that, or perhaps it is that "commited" is also often used in place of "perpetrated" in regard to crime. And until very recently (the 60's I think) in the U.K at least, suicide or attempted suicide was considered a crime. (Whether this was/is true in other parts of the world I don't know.)

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'Suicided' as a verb is heard as an insinuating comment. 'He was suicided,' meaning that the preponderance of evidence point to a homicide . – user3847 Aug 14 at 0:06

I think the difference between suicide and other verbs is that suicide used to be a crime, and so has the same form as other crimes or things that used to be crimes.

Commit has the meaning to perpetrate, so any verb that is/was a crime, can be committed.

In this sense, suicide is not being used as a verb, but a gerund.

So, you can commit

  • suicide
  • murder
  • theft
  • fraud
  • treason
  • blasphemy
  • etc.
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According to another question I just read, a gerund in English MUST end in -ing. – GEdgar Jun 27 '11 at 15:30
@GEdgar: Well, that seem counter intuitive to this particular situation where if murder or suicide were nouns they would be preceded by an article e.g. "commit a murder", but they aren't, so they must be gerunds. I don't believe there is any rule in English that can be prefixed with MUST. They all have exceptions. – Matt E. Эллен Jun 28 '11 at 7:30
They are not gerunds. They are abstract nouns when used with "commit" and hence do not take any article. Some can be used as count nouns in other contexts but that is irrelevant. Others like "fraud" and "treason" and "insubordination" are not count nouns anyway. – user21820 Jun 27 at 10:28
And you may ask why we say "commit a crime" instead of "commit crime" since "crime" can be used as an abstract noun... It is because "crime" is not an action whereas we say "commit X" when "X" is an abstract action. That is also why we say "commit an offence" and "commit an error" and "commit an act of murder". – user21820 Jun 27 at 10:32

The verb suicide doesn't necessarily convey intent, while commit suicide does. Other than that, they mean exactly the same thing.

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Suicide is always defined as intentional. – Daniel Jun 27 '11 at 0:24
How about a suicidal mission, or any other situation where death is almost certain but the actor doesn't 100% intend to die – Louis Rhys Jun 27 '11 at 8:48

Both the NOAD and the OED (the electronic version available on my Mac) reports that suicide is also a verb, and it means "intentionally kill oneself."
The example given by both the dictionaries is the following:

She suicided in a very ugly manner.

This meaning of suicide is not reported to be literary, archaic, or poetic.

The same dictionaries report that commit in commit suicide means "carry out or perpetrate (a mistake, crime, or immoral act)."

He committed an uncharacteristic error.

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Suicide may be reported as a verb by the OED, but I've never heard nor read anyone say: "He suicided" or "He suicided himself", it's either: "He committed suicide" or "He killed himself". I'd be interested to hear the date of "She suicided in a very ugly manner", does OED say it is archaic/obsolete/rare/informal? – Mari-Lou A Sep 24 at 19:11
The citation is from a Star Trek novel?! – Mari-Lou A Sep 24 at 19:18
They don't say anything, except "verb; intentionally kill oneself: she suicided in a very ugly manner." – kiamlaluno Sep 24 at 20:25
I'd say that if anyone does use suicided it would be a restricted sort of jargon to save words - like using KIA in military casualty reports. It is absent from normal speech or writing. – Oldcat Sep 24 at 21:46

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