What is the difference in meaning when of/from are used:

  1. He died of cancer

Compared to:

  1. He died from electrocution

Both are correct sentences; are of and from interchangeable?

  • I have never come across either of your suggestions. The only expression I know is: He was electrocuted or, possibly, He died after being electrocuted.. However, Google Books Ngram Viewer shows that both constructions were in use until fairly recently: books.google.com/ngrams/… Jun 22, 2021 at 15:26
  • So this is just a rot learning where with disease use of and with others i don't know use from Jun 22, 2021 at 15:36
  • I would have no issue with either preposition being used in either context.
    – randomhead
    Jun 22, 2021 at 15:36
  • Yes it only a concern for student who is giving the exam. Teachers can explain based on answers they see Jun 22, 2021 at 16:05
  • If you fell off a cliff, then you died from falling off a cliff (it is not a disease). Jun 22, 2021 at 16:37

1 Answer 1


Of X leans towards associating the death with A) something that was going on for a long time or B) a category of some sort, whereas from X leans towards saying X was the direct cause of death and didn't necessarily last for months or years.

For example, if you say He died of electrocution, it sounds like you're keeping track of causes of deaths for a number of people, or filling out a form where that is done, but He died from electrocution seems like it's directly intended to answer the question "How did he die?".

  • Yup i was thinking of this logic between cancer/electrocution while eating. With ur confirmation i will stick to it. Thanks for ur response sir. Jun 22, 2021 at 16:41
  • 1
    My book says "of" is preposition for cause while "from" for purpose. But both seems same to me and in some questions i get stuck.What's the difference?? Jun 22, 2021 at 16:46
  • There's a lot of overlap between certain pairs of English prepositions, and sometimes the reason why a specific preposition is used in various places is idiomatic - e.g. there's no real reason. Or multiple prepositions could be used with only small differences in meaning that usually don't matter. It's just the nature of language.
    – LawrenceC
    Jun 22, 2021 at 20:27

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