What is appropriate to use in cases of death in natural disasters: killed, or died?

Lets say, I wanted to say, "Earth destroyed this morning, everyone [died|got killed] in a parallel universe."

I am not sure what is more appropriate to use.

Died seems to me as if someone died from injury, or disease or something that does not intend to kill it. While killed seems more like an external factor that caused the death of someone purposefully.


kill, verb: To put to death; to deprive of life. The Black Death was a disease that killed millions.

You can be killed by an earthquake, by a building collapse, by drowning, or by a heart attack. Intent and purpose have nothing to do with it. Anything that causes you to die is something that kills you. Haven't you heard the warning, "Smoking kills"?

The only difference I can think of between "to die" and "to be killed" is that the latter carries a connotation that the death was somehow violent or unnatural.

"My grandfather was killed by old age! In his sleep!" (??)


Either everyone died or everyone was killed works pretty much equally well:

  • Earth was destroyed this morning: everyone died in a parallel universe.
  • Earth was destroyed this morning: everyone was killed in a parallel universe.

However, got killed sounds informal, so you probably wouldn’t use it in formal writing except as related speech.


"Died" is to lose one's life due to injuries sustained or to natural causes from within.
"Killed" is to lose one's life due to an outside force or act of another.

  • 2
    You can have people who were killed by the floods, (an external force) who died in the floods (drowned) , or who lost their lives in the floods. Basically, you're saying there is no difference between the two. – Mari-Lou A Feb 9 '14 at 20:03

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