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died by

Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:46 am
by navi
Are these sentences correct:

1) He died of hanging.
2) He died by hanging.


3) He died of being hanged.
4) He died by being hanged.


Gratefully,
Navi.

Re: died by

Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:22 pm
by Phil White
They all sound very odd indeed. I can't quite pin down why. We would normally simply say "he was hanged" or "he hanged himself", as "hanging" implies dying.

But the thrust of your question is about the distinction between "die of" and "die by". These two have different meanings, although they sometimes overlap.

"Die of" indicates the actual cause of death, so, in your examples, you do not "die of" hanging. The victim dies of asphyxiation or of a broken neck.

"Die by" indicates the method used: "he died by falling from a bridge" (in which case, he would probably have died of multiple head injuries).

In some cases, both are possible, but the implication is a little different:
  • "He died of asphyxiation" (the cause of death was a lack of oxygen)
  • "He died by asphyxiation" (somebody or something prevented him from breathing)

Re: died by

Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:28 pm
by Bobinwales
The usual description for an executed criminal is that he died by hanging.

Re: died by

Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 5:58 pm
by Phil White
Bobinwales wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:28 pm
The usual description for an executed criminal is that he died by hanging.
I stand corrected. But there are still only a few contexts in which the collocation does not sound odd to me, for instance when talking of the various ways in which people die.

Re: died by

Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:37 pm
by navi
Thank you both very much,

I had heard 'died by hanging', hence the question. But that is the only case where I have encountered that usage. Maybe 'hanging' is a true noun, and not a gerund in that sentence.

I think we could say:
A) He died by accident.
Even maybe
B) He died by lightning.

But 'accident' and 'lightning' are fully nouns.

My second hypothesis would be that in 'die by hanging', 'hang' is an intransitive verb. He hanged.
Consider:
C) He died by stepping on a live wire.

Gratefully,
Navi.