Since we have a single word like birthday, is there a corresponding term for the date of someone’s death?

  • I don't think so, birthdays are celebratory. Clearly the opposite is not. Finally, I am reminded of a short story. Apr 18, 2014 at 16:41
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    There isn't really a single word. But there is a single character. If you want to write the death year of someone named Joe Black, you could just write Joe Black ✝1995, using any of several typographic cross symbols (this one happens to be , Unicode 2710D Latin Cross). Apr 18, 2014 at 18:09
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    I would be most displeased with a cross on my gravestone. I'm rather sorry that it's the standard symbol in genealogy, and if someone can suggest another I'll adopt it. Apr 19, 2014 at 5:11
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    @AndrewLazarus - With a name like that I wouldn’t think you’d need one.
    – Jim
    Jul 1, 2016 at 6:09
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    @AndrewLazarus It is not the standard symbol, as per my comment above; the standard symbol is to the best of my knowledge the dagger.
    – Canned Man
    Aug 24, 2021 at 15:05

6 Answers 6


I think the closest word is obit, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as "A record or notice of a person's death, or of the date of it; (also, occas.) the date itself" (sense 1(b)), and further as "An office or service, usually a mass, held to pray for the soul of or otherwise commemorate a deceased person ... on the anniversary of his or her death, or at some other appointed time; a yearly or other regular memorial service" (sense 2(a)).

The second definition, referring to a yearly commemoration, shows that "obit" is a reasonably good analogue for death of "birthday" for birth.

EDIT: The OED also gives obit day, which might be a closer analogue (yes, it's not a single word...). An example quotation from the OED, dated 1995, is: "The communar account rolls record that £1 was spent on his obit day between 1347 and 1536." However, if you allow two-word analogues, the OED also defines death day as "The anniversary of the day or date on which a person died" (sense 2).

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    Wow, that is a very obscure usage. I've never heard it used, myself. But if OED says so, then I am forced to concede that may be the answer. Although, the word birthday is not generally used to refer to one's date of birth. Apr 18, 2014 at 16:09
  • A little obscure, perhaps. Interestingly, though, this entry in the OED was updated a few years ago for the 3rd edition, and these are the only two definitions that are not marked as obsolete.
    – Senex
    Apr 18, 2014 at 16:28
  • Sweet! +1 for the research. Apr 18, 2014 at 16:32
  • @Cyberherbalist The benefit of institutional access to the OED :)
    – Senex
    Apr 18, 2014 at 16:35
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    Thanks - those are pretty good near equivalents. Maybe if people commemorated these days more often they'd eventually make it to single word status... Thanks...
    – user72476
    Apr 18, 2014 at 16:54

Well Birthday and Deathday. It's not an official word. But I don't see why not. You also say deathbed don't you? Yet I have never heard of birthbed. Though it is the same thing. Only you don't ever actually lie in your birthbed, your mother does, but she is not born in this bed. With deathbed you are the one lying there so it is more frequently used.

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    LOL! But not birthbed! Actually, a woman who is in the throes of childbirth used to be said to be in "childbed". Apr 18, 2014 at 16:34
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    +1. Deathday was popularized by J. K. Rowling via Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpinton, aka Nearly Headless Nick. In the Chamber of Secrets novel, Nick invites Harry Potter and his friends and a whole slew of ghosts to his 500th Deathday Party, explaining that the day of death is celebrated by ghosts more commonly and thoroughly than the day of birth, because a ghost is defined by their death (and they can actually remember it). Deathday would probably be a more common term if it had not been omitted entirely from the film adaptation.
    – Patrick M
    Apr 18, 2014 at 20:35
  • @PatrickM now why does it matter if JK Rowling used a word in her book? Yes it may be a bit more popular than if your questioner uses the word. But language is a living thing. What prevents us to just make up words. In this case it is even a compound word. So it should be ok - totally. In Germany it is what we do anyway. Just stick two existing words together, et voila you have a new word that has the combined meaning of the previous two words. No magic there, no reference needed. Just understanding of the previous two words required. Apr 19, 2014 at 8:14
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    Hmm, that's an interesting question. Of course, anyone can make up a word and of course language changes over times. All I was pointing out was that if the questioner wanted to chose a recognizable word that would be instantly and correctly understood by the widest audience (presumably the chief reason one would ask for advice here), it wouldn't hurt to choose one that had been printed in 77 million copies of a book across 72 languages.
    – Patrick M
    Apr 19, 2014 at 15:27
  • @PatrickM right, back to economics of scale and ROI =) Apr 19, 2014 at 15:46

In a word, no.

If we commemorated deaths by a regular annual remembrance then there might be such a word. We only have the word birthday because we do commemorate births. But the day we are born is not our birthday! It is our date of birth, just like the other end of things is called our date of death. Our first birthday occurs one year after our date of birth.

German has two single words: Geburtsdatum and Sterbedatum. But then, German is possibly the most agglutinative language on the planet.

Completely off-topic now...

My favorite long German word? Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän.

Means a "Danube steamship company captain." This is not, however the longest German word. Some candidates are discussed here.

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    Chemistry is the most agglutinative language on the planet. Apr 18, 2014 at 15:58
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    I appreciate the sentiment, @EdwinAshworth, but I beg to gently differ. Would you call "(6E,13E)-18-bromo-12-butyl-11-chloro-4,8-diethyl-5-hydroxy-15-methoxytricosa-6,13-dien-19-yne-3,9-dione" a word? I find that a bit difficult to swallow. Apr 18, 2014 at 16:03
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    On the subject of words: I've seen conflicting definitions even for such a basic and necessary term. I thought I'd cracked this problem by using 'lexeme' for 'unit of meaning at least one orthographic word in length' such as {box=boxes}, {particleboard/s = particle-board/s = particle board/s}, {ship of the desert} – but some people don't consider multi-orthographic-word strings as candidates for lexemes. In spite of the fact that Crystal invented the term and used it that way. Apr 18, 2014 at 16:38
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    @user72746 Yes, German does have such a word: Todestag, and the date of death of important people is often celebrated in Germany. Germans even organize whole year-long celebrations for the Todesjahr (centennials of the year of death) of great composers. Apr 18, 2014 at 19:32
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    Of course "Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän" is the exact same word as the English "Danube steamship transport company captain". It just so happens that English, another Germanic language, uses spaces in it (to make it even longer, so I'm not sure why people keep bringing up German at all, when it clearly saves space). More to the point perhaps, "Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän" is also exactly as common as its English equivalent. How about considering a word every single German actually uses hundreds of times in his life, like eintausendneunhundertneunundneunzig.
    – RegDwigнt
    Apr 18, 2014 at 23:17

The genealogical term for it is DOD.

Plus, I digged up some rare instances of deathdate scattered here and there on the Net.

Even though these aren't single word expressions, consider also quietus date and demise date.


The closest thing that I can think of is expiration date/day. Or you can say the day they expired.

  • You can just shorten that to "Expiration: xx/xx/xxxx" or "Expired: xx/xx/xxxx" where xx is the date of death.
    – JoshDM
    Apr 18, 2014 at 18:26
  • Don't forget Cubert's "Happy Growth-scraping Day" on Futurama!
    – Phil Perry
    Apr 18, 2014 at 19:25
  • Just thought I'd add that if you include the birthday, just the two dates will be enough for people to know what they mean. John Doe, Jan 1865 - April 1950 Apr 18, 2014 at 19:29

Yes. There is. It is known as their feast day. Catholics have celebrated the feast days of Saints for thousands of years. The same term (feast day) also refers to the anniversary date of the day anyone dies.


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