How does one refer to the birthdate of someone who is no more, we usually say

Today is my uncle's 80th birth anniversary (Common in Indian English, not sure if it's correct)


Today would have been my uncle's 80th birthday

Is it right to say

"Today is my uncle's 80th birthday" for an uncle who is dead?

  • I agree with your answer completely. Today's Google honors pioneering x-ray crystallographer Dorothy Hodgkins. Both Google and the UK's Mirror are reporting that today is her birthday. I was shocked that she was still alive. In fact, she is not. She died in 1994. Again, your answer is correct, Google and the Mirror, not so right. Commented May 12, 2014 at 13:12

3 Answers 3


I would say "Today would have been ...", especially since you are talking about a specific number (80). Because as a living person he didn't turn 80, so he never had that birthday.

But if you leave out the number I think you could say "Today is my uncle's birthday".

  • 5
    I think "the anniversary of his birth" is also common if a little more formal. Reserved perhaps for newsreaders.
    – Karl
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 7:26
  • 1
    I have never heard "anniversary of his birth" used, but it sounds very nice. Especially if the person was very important (to you). Sounds like a very respectful way of saying it. And yes, maybe for newsreaders indeed.
    – masarah
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 7:31
  • 2
    I agree with leaving out the number, but the formulation I would use then would be Today was my uncle's birthday.
    – user14070
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 14:00

As masarah pointed out your second form is correct, but there is also a correct way of wording your first form in American English. It would be:

Today is the 80th anniversary of my uncle's birth.

In other words we generally don't consider it somebodies birthday any more (except with a "would have been" qualifier), but particularly for notable figures in history we still count the anniversary of their birth.


In addition to what other answerers have said, you could use Latin-based anniversary names, such as centenary or centennial. Terms for other durations are less common, though.

  • 1
    I wouldn't be comfortable using these terms as meaning a person's birthday, unless perhaps the person was a major historic figure, such as Abraham Lincoln, and even that would be stretching the point. My sense of it is that these terms usually connote significant public events. Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 8:41

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.