Is there a difference between those expressions: "Die from cancer" or "Die of cancer"? Are they both correct?


to die of some direct cause - cancer

to die from something indirect like drinking caustic soda or illness

You can also die by

Here is a good list


To die of Aids, of bird flu, of hunger, of overeating, of a heart attack, of cancer, of pneumonia, of childbirth, of stress, of a broken heart, of sorrow, of love, of curiosity (figurative language only, I hope)...

To die from car/road accidents, from desease, 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...


Die of is rather more frequent than die from in both the Corpus of Contemporary American English and the British National Corpus, and by a greater ratio in the latter. It would take a closer examination of the corpora to see if there was much difference in meaning between the two. My intuition is that there isn’t.

  • Both terms as pointed out by mplungjan exist; you can die from drinking but you shouldn't say someone died of drinking. But with "die of cancer" and "die from cancer" it's not so clear cut. Do they have the same meaning?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 11 '13 at 7:32
  • 1
    You can say someone died of drink, so perhaps died of has to be followed by a noun. I would guess that die of cancer and die from cancer had the same meaning, but, as I said, only a thorough examination of the evidence could tell us for sure one way or another. Sep 11 '13 at 7:54

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