In Italian, disperso (whose plural is dispersi) is a noun used for every person that is not yet confirmed as alive, or dead. The closer English word I can think is missing which is an adjective, and which I always heard as in missing in action.

Is there a noun that can be used for all the people missing after an accident, or a natural event?

  • 2
    I've heard "Schrödinger's People", but, of course, one can use it in a humorous context only, not when it's about real people and real disasters. Jan 31, 2013 at 11:26

1 Answer 1


Missing is probably the closest, or unaccounted for. Sometimes, one might say assumed dead, depending on context. Three days after an earthquake, for instance, when the chances of successful rescue are slim, then assumed dead, or presumed dead will often be used to describe those still unaccounted for.

  • 2
    Also, as you say, unaccounted for works too. Jan 31, 2013 at 0:17
  • @MarkBeadles: Quite :)
    – Flimzy
    Jan 31, 2013 at 0:25
  • In the first case, would you say "The missings are not anymore missing?"
    – apaderno
    Feb 3, 2013 at 9:28
  • @kiamlaluno: I suspect you would never hear that in anything resembling formal writing (i.e. a news report). If you said that among friends, you would likely be understood.
    – Flimzy
    Feb 4, 2013 at 16:21
  • The Missing....that's gotta be a movie title. Feb 6, 2013 at 17:51

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