Can "his murder" mean two different things?

  1. The murder of a male person (him)
  2. A man's crime, e.g His murder of someone
  • 3
    Yes. Basically, you can ask him. If he answers, it's the second case.
    – oerkelens
    Apr 10, 2014 at 12:01
  • 1
    Yes, in theory at least, but it would usually mean the former.
    – user230
    Apr 10, 2014 at 12:03
  • 1
    Unless it's murders, then it is usually the latter - except for cats maybe.
    – oerkelens
    Apr 10, 2014 at 12:06
  • +1 to @oerkelens comment. It took me a while until the penny dropped, but after it did I have to say it's genius remmark!
    – Nico
    Apr 11, 2014 at 8:52

2 Answers 2


Just to add to the answers you already got, here are a few real examples linked by this ngram.

Being the victim

Being the murderer


I would like to credit DamkerngT for the idea of using the verb "commit" to provide enough context to interpret "his murder" as "his murder of a victim".

  • Also, *his murder conviction
    – Maulik V
    Apr 10, 2014 at 14:59
  • Sorry about the mess. I'm updating the answer.
    – Nico
    Apr 10, 2014 at 16:37

Context, context, context!

Simply leaving his murder will be something like aiming in the dark! But still, let me try.

What are you talking about? He confessed, really? "Yes, he did. He confessed for his murder and is now repenting his awful act." - here, he murdered someone.

If it was in the context of a trial, the phrase could be used that way...

Oscar Pistorius was the target of relentless and combative questioning Wednesday as the prosecutor in his murder trial tried to... - here it means he murdered someone and its trial going on.

On the other hand,

That desire ended in his murder, following an attack that was without mercy - his murder was barbaric. - here, he was murdered

  • @downvoters...again, the reason please
    – Maulik V
    Apr 10, 2014 at 12:29
  • It was not I who downvoted you, but perhaps it was due to the rather fractured English in "Yes, he did. He did for his murder and now repenting his awful act." I would have put "Yes, he did. He confessed to his murder and is now repenting his awful act." Also, in this sentence "his" could easily refer to the victim rather than the murderer: "He confessed to her murder" makes this obvious. Normally, we would qualify "his murder" in some way if he is the murderer: "his murder conviction", "his second murder", etc.
    – BobRodes
    Apr 10, 2014 at 13:42
  • I agree with your plea for more context. In fact, "his murder" might not refer to anyone's death at all! Consider the panning critic: "It was hard to sit through his murder of Rachmaninov's Fughetta in F" (Meaning 2), or: "It was fun watching Borg play tennis in his prime, but his murder in Monte Carlo was hard to watch." (Meaning 3).
    – J.R.
    Apr 10, 2014 at 14:31

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