1. A dead person, especially one who has died recently.
  2. (used with a pl. verb) Dead persons considered as a group; the dead. https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=departed

However Garner reads

A lock of hair of the dear departed (Really, the whole phrase should be rewritten, perhaps by making it a lock of hair of a departed loved one.)

Why is departed wrong here, unlike, say, the noun beloved?

  • 1
    I don't think it is wrong. The quoted phrase seems to be a correction of the dearly departed (which is wrong). I think Garner suggests rewriting it because it refers to an unspecified deceased person, not a particular one. Jul 15, 2021 at 18:59
  • @KateBunting "particular one"? oed.com/oed2/00061091 (in Also (esp. joc.) the dear departed. "joc." means jocular(ly) public.oed.com/how-to-use-the-oed/abbreviations)
    – GJC
    Jul 15, 2021 at 19:17
  • @KateBunting Fowler reads "With the verb love and in some other contexts where the meaning is ‘very much’ ( he loved her dearly; I would dearly like to join you on Friday ), dearly is usual and dear merely poetic ( The dear-loved peaceful seat —Byron, 1807)"
    – GJC
    Jul 15, 2021 at 19:20
  • I meant that the phrase the dear departed is usually used when the reader is aware of the context that someone has recently died, so they know who is being referred to. As I interpret it. the phrase quoted by Garner refers to 'a lock of the hair of someone close to them who is now dead', the deceased not having been previously mentioned. Jul 16, 2021 at 7:56
  • Dearly is an adverb. The departed person was dear to the mourners, they didn't 'depart in a dear way'. Jul 16, 2021 at 7:57

1 Answer 1


"departed" or "the dear departed" is correct in this context.

Garner is criticising the "mawkish" style, not the grammar.

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