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Do the English or the Americans use no more to mean 'dead'? For example, do they say "He is no more" to mean "He is dead"?

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    For a great list of euphemisms for "dead", including "is no more", see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Parrot_sketch – curious-proofreader Jun 16 '16 at 5:10
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    The title of the article "is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker" was adapted from the Monty Python's parrot sketch: “This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late parrot. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. Its metabolic processes are a matter of interest only to historians!." – Mark Ripley Jun 16 '16 at 7:31
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    Once there was a boy, but now he is no more. For what he thought was H2O was really H2SO4 – Kevin Jun 17 '16 at 7:10
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    In this context: "It was dead, it is no more." I guess it means "alive" – Nuri Tasdemir Jun 17 '16 at 10:04
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    Yes. Having said that, most SE sites don't allow yes or no questions... – Hack-R Jun 18 '16 at 1:50

10 Answers 10

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Not quite.

It is true that "He is no more" can mean "He is dead", but that doesn't mean that "no more" is a way of saying "dead".

In "He is dead", the word "dead" modifies "he", and the verb "is" is there simply to connect the subject to the predicate "dead".

In "He is no more", the words "no more" modify the verb "is". The base sentence is "He is" -- a rather pompous way to assert that he exists -- and by tacking "no more" on we're saying that this situation is not the case anymore. In other words,

He is dead --> He currently has the property of being dead.

He is no more --> It is not currently the case that he exists (but in the past it was).

The concrete result of this is that "no more" cannot be used attributively -- you cannot speak about *"her no-more father" in place of "her dead father", for example.

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    «It is true that "He is no more" can mean "He is dead", but that doesn't mean that "no more" is a way of saying "dead".» This is an entirely contradictory statement, no? – Lightness Races in Orbit Jun 16 '16 at 18:41
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit: Not at all. Similarly, "It is true that "This is an integer greater than 3" means the same as "This is an integer greater than pi", but that doesn't mean that 3 is a way of saying pi" is not contradictory at all. – Henning Makholm Jun 16 '16 at 18:50
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    Those two phrases don't mean the same thing. So how is that a useful example? – Lightness Races in Orbit Jun 16 '16 at 19:51
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit they do mean the same thing. "This is an integer greater than or equal to four". I'm not convinced this is a relevant example though. – Martin Smith Jun 16 '16 at 20:06
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    @ruakh: "No more" does not mean "dead" because there is essentially only one context where you can put the two two phrases and get sentences with the same meaning out of it -- namely this one. And in this prarticular context, "no more" does not even work as an adjective but is an adverbial phrase -- as I explain in the answer, it does not modity the dead person, but instead modifies the entire claim that he exists. In order to say that two phrases have overlapping meaning, I require that there are many cases where they are interchageable, and that they are the same part of speech! – Henning Makholm Jun 18 '16 at 9:28
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Yes. Definitely. It is used more illustratively - but technically the verb "is" = the verb "to be" in that sentence - and, as in Shakespeare's "to be or not to be" in which the question is Do I keep living or kill myself, once a person dies, they stop "being".

So "He is no more" is a very "Edgar Allan Poe" or dramatic way of saying "he" has stopped "being" - living, feeling, doing, etc - and someone only stops "being" when they are dead.

  • Hamlet was not contemplating suicide when he said "to be or not to be". He was contemplating action (not to just "be", but to act) or inaction ("to be"; i.e. to just sit still and not avenge his father). Once a person acts, they stop being passive (the passive verb to be) and start "not being" and engage in an action. – mcgyver5 Jun 17 '16 at 14:13
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    @mcgyver5: What are you talking about? I invite you to re-read the soliloquy that opens with that line. Hamlet is absolutely contemplating suicide. – ruakh Jun 18 '16 at 2:49
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Can it be used in that sense? Yes. Absolutely.

Is it used in that sense in modern speech or literature? No. This is archaic/poetic, and if you said it to someone on the street, you would likely get a strange look.

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    For some reason I can well imagine someone saying "he is no more" when referring to their pet cat or dog, but I can't imagine them saying it of Grandpa. I think that's because it's perhaps just a little bit lighthearted. – Michael Kay Jun 16 '16 at 7:42
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    "Is it used in that sense in modern speech or literature? No." I disagree. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jun 16 '16 at 18:41
  • Agree with LightnessRacesinOrbit here. I've heard it used and used it myself. As noted by Michael-Kay, it might be considered cold-hearted to use it for someone you or your listener is close to, but it is still used. – GreenMatt Jun 16 '16 at 19:38
  • +1. Nowadays people tend to say "He's gone". The register of "He is no more" is quaintly oratorical. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 17 '16 at 16:33
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Simply, Yes.

I refer you to the definitive example of this usage:

Mr. Praline: He's not pinin'! He's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! He's expired and gone to meet his maker! He's a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed him to the perch he'd be pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He's off the twig! He's kicked the bucket, he's shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

  • Nice, but it would have been more helpful if you had explained the similarity between “is no more” and “ceased to be”. – Carsten S Jun 19 '16 at 14:47
  • @CarstenS I thought it was obvious that it was a list of terms used to describe the same thing. Besides, the only answer the OP wanted was if it was used to denote death. – gbjbaanb Jun 19 '16 at 18:57
  • Sure, but I was under the impression that the OP had not completely understood the grammatical construction, in particular that “is” is a full verb here. – Carsten S Jun 21 '16 at 10:40
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It can be used as a euphemism for dead, e.g. in the humorous poem

Johnny was a chemist's son
but Johnny is no more
for what he thought was H2O
was H2SO4.

3

I completely agree with the contributors above. At least for English in England, it's not common to say that someone is "no more" (and I would guess the same is true, and possibly to a greater extent, in the USA and Canada). It is something of an archaic phrase, though still used. In the context of a situation where a death has occurred, it will be easily understood what you mean, however, it would be advisable to have a good grasp of both English language humour and the sense of humour of the people with whom the phrase is being used, as well as the situation, as it does have comical associations, and thus might be interpreted in the wrong way in conversation. Dead or "has died" is the more commonly used word/phrase in everyday conversation, and I'd advise that it's used instead of "no more" to avoid any misunderstandings if you're not sure. :)

1

Short answer is yes, but it could mean other things depending on context.

Bill is no more. - Could mean that bill is dead, but it could also mean that Bill, as you thought of him is not the same.

Bill is no more. He passed away last week in a car accident. DEAD

Bill is no more. He ruined that contract and I will not forgive him. NOT DEAD - This statement is more like Bill is ruined professionally.

Bill is no more. Sadly, the brain damage was too severe. NOT DEAD - In this example, your trying to say that Bill, as you know him, is gone, and what's still around is no longer recognizable as Bill.

In short, "is no more" means that the entity Bill is no longer around. It can be used to describe death or other things that would take the primary properties of Bill and make them not exist. The same is true (and more popular) for ideals.

The days of letting your kinds play outside from sun up till sun down are no more. These days you must be more aware of where your children are.

0

"No more" means that something has ceased to exist.

In the case of a person, the body still exists. However, the life is gone. Although religious beliefs do differ, the general consensus is that the person's character, personality, and knowledge are not continuing to be active within the same body. So, although the body is now dead, the life is not continuing. Therefore, the phrase is proper to say.

Using the phrase to describe a noun is appropriate when the noun completely ceases to exist. So, when a body does continue to exist, then using the phrase does suggest/imply a difference between the body and the life/soul.

On a side note, the phrase can also be used to describe nouns other than lives. For instance, Nazi Germany's military strength is no more.

Using the phrase “no more” is not (currently) the most common way to express death. Saying that something “is no more” just feels like communication that is slightly convoluted. (Saying that something “is gone” is more common.) So, people may need to think for a second or two, to process what has been said. However, the phrase “is no more” is readily, easily understood.

0

It is a figure of speech. It can be used to indicate someone has died. But it can also be used to mean many other things depending on context. Think 'kicked the bucket' (another phrase with can be used to denote one's passing).

For example:

Speaker A: Greg kicked the bucket.
Speaker B: Oh! I'm sorry to hear that!

Vs:

Speaker A: Greg accidentally kicked the bucket.
Speaker B: Oh, yes, it was in a rather hazardous location.
Speaker A: The water went everywhere.

Or in the case of 'no more':

Speaker A: Greg is no more...
Speaker B: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.
Speaker A: If you'd let me finish... Greg is no more of a bucket kicker than I am.

-1

"Say not in grief 'he is no more' but live in thankfulness that he was" ~ Hebrew proverb

Yes, but it's uncommon.

I thought it might be worth it to highlight some of the various phrases that we use for death, and why, and therefore why "no more" is awkward.

Formal: "died"

Newscasters talking about someone who has died will tend to use this term. It's straightfoward and formal:

"Merle Haggard, the grizzled country music legend whose songs made
him a voice for the workingman and the outsider, has died. He was 79."

Personal: "passed"

This is a vaguely religious term derived from "passed on into the afterlife". "Passed", "passed on" and "passed away" are all very common phrases in personal discussions. I believe the idea is to avoid using terms such as "dead" or "no more" because those imply a permanent state of being dead rather than the more comforting religious suggestion that they still exist, just somewhere else in some other form which they have "passed" into.

"How's your aunt Bertha?"
"Oh, she passed away last month."

Flippant: "kicked the bucket" and a huge list of other phrases.

I would actually put "no more" in this list, unless someone is writing a screenplay that's intentionally archaic in speech.

"Didn't you used to have a goldfish?"
"THE GOLDFISH IS [dramatic pause] NO MORE."

This is being intentionally a little silly, to show that the speaker is not particularly broken up about it and does not require comforting words about their goldfish.

To the point but a bit callous: "dead"

"Died" is okay because it implies a change in physical state. "He has died [and gone to heaven]."

"Dead" is looked on as callous because it implies a current, final state. No passing on, no afterlife, just dead.

"How's your aunt Bertha?"
"Oh, she's dead."

Awkward.

"No more", used seriously, would fall into this category. Like "dead", it's not wrong to use it but it would generally be seen as a bit callous and you won't typically hear people use it in serious conversations about deceased people.

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