Most Indian newspapers write in good English. The only oddity across all papers I've seen lies in the choice of vocabulary talking about the passing away or death of someone. Invariably, people don't seem to die, but to "expire".

What part, if any, of Hindu philosophy concerning death would have people choose "he expired" over "he died"?

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    I think this is just a peculiarity of Indian English, honestly.
    – senshin
    Jun 18, 2014 at 20:24
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    @senshin Pecuriality, certainly, but why "expired" and not "crashed" or "vanished" or "extinguished" or "ceased" or any other similar word? "expired" would go well with the idea of being given only a (definite/pre-determined) finite interval of time on this earth, death marking the inevitable "expiration date" of this time period. I don't know if such a concept is natural to Hindu thought, though.
    – Earthliŋ
    Jun 18, 2014 at 20:47
  • I really think you're reading too much into it. See also: english.stackexchange.com/a/90921/43004. I'm not sure if you natively speak a variety of English, so forgive me if this comes across poorly, but "expire" is a natural (if dated) synonym for "die", whereas "crash", "vanish", and "extinguish" aren't. "cease" could work, but would be very strange.
    – senshin
    Jun 18, 2014 at 20:53
  • @senshin I'm not a native speaker of English and wasn't aware of it being a synonym of "to die". The other answers/comment on the English.SE page you linked to seem to disagree on the exact nuance, though. "expired" seems to be either "blunt", "jokey", "technical", "archaic" or "euphemis[tic]". In any case, if this is simply a language issue, we should have an answer that says so. ぜひ
    – Earthliŋ
    Jun 18, 2014 at 21:07

4 Answers 4


I don't think that this has anything to do with Hindu conceptions of death. Rather, this is most likely a peculiarity of Indian English.

In many varieties of English, expire is a somewhat archaic, euphemistic synonym for "die". However, in Indian English, this is merely a euphemistic synonym for "die", not an archaic one. Some dude has put together an Indian English → British(?) English lexicon here that contains expire as an entry. While I don't know if the lexicon as a whole is useful, the fact that the creator chose to include expire further suggests that this is just another idiosyncrasy of Indian English.

This old version of the Wikipedia page on Indian English also lists "expire" as a a dialectal feature of Indian English. While the page is largely unsourced, it mostly jives with my intuitions as someone who has heard and read a fair bit of Indian English.

It is possible that the choice to use "expire" rather than a different euphemism like "pass away" is motivated by a conscious understanding of Hindu philosophy, but Occam's razor suggests that just isn't all that likely - this is probably another one of those nigh-inexplicable weird things about language.

EDIT: Amusingly enough, just earlier today, I talked with a not-that-religious Indian person who, completely unprompted, said "Did you hear about [so-and-so]? He expired."


Hinduism is a vague word, but I'll answer from the Vaishnava perspective. In Vaishnavism, the core philosophy states that the eternal living being is the soul and not the body. The soul continues to transmigrate through different bodies until he achieves liberation from the cycle of birth and death. In other words, the soul is eternal, while the body is temporary.

Bhagavad Gita 2.20 — For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

Therefore, the body expires or dies, but the individual inside, the soul, does not.

  • I think that the word "death" doesn't prevent one from being reborn. Resurrection is used in Western philosophy, but this doesn't prevent the person in question from dying, rather than expiring. Maybe this is a simple translation issue. Do the words "death" and "expiration" coincide in Hindu/Bengali/Punjabi/Sanskrit/[whatever Indian language]?
    – Earthliŋ
    Jun 18, 2014 at 20:11
  • @Earthliŋ In that case, I think it mostly a question of Indian English, which tends to be archaic sometimes.
    – cheenbabes
    Jun 18, 2014 at 20:13
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    @Earthliŋ In sanskrit, death is referred to as "life leaving the body" Jun 18, 2014 at 20:14
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    @cheenbabes even if the expression in archaic in some western traditions, its continued use and understanding in some other eastern cultures could signify a different understanding and meaning of the word. Jun 18, 2014 at 20:21
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    From the Merriam_Webster dictionary, expire is a synonym of "to die" but also comes from Latin word exspirare, which means to breathe out air (15th century). This is also a current definition in medical circles. Considering there is reference in the scriptures to the soul leaving through one of the nine gates in the body, one of them being the mouth, it could refer to this. Similar to "taking one's last breath" expression in English.
    – cheenbabes
    Jun 18, 2014 at 20:27

Unrelated to newspapers, but in Bhagavad-gītā 2.22 Krišna also says

vāsāmsi jīrnāni yathā vihāya ... tathā šarīrāni vihāya jīrnāni

"jīrna" is pretty close in meaning to "expired", "decayed" and "worn out", so Krišna used the same word for death 5000 years ago.


In Hinduism, end of earthly life is considered not an end but the beginning of another life. The ultimate end is attainment of moksha where a person attains freedom from the cycle of birth and death. So when a person "dies", he merely "expires" his life on earth or say ceases to exist in human body and becomes one with nature.

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