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Hi

Could you please tell me what "for dead" means in the following sentences?

They left him there for dead.

Does it mean that they thought he was dead and left or they thought they he was going to die?

Thanks,

Tom
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Hi Tom,

To leave somebody for dead probably is the expression in its entirety here. It usually has a negative connotation. If placed in context, we would get something like: two people are driving around in a car when all of a sudden they hit a pedestrian. When they back up they see this guy lying on the street, unconscious. They decide to drive off home and leave the unconsicous guy on the street. So, basically it means that they more or less deliberately (of course sometimes in a state of shock) leave the victim alone, not knowing whether this person requires medical attention or not – 'as if he were dead'.

I'm not sure if and how the expression could be used in another context. Usually there's been some kind of accident in which people have been negligent in looking after the victim. I do think though that the above example is more or less how it's used by most people.

- DJB -
Comments  
Hi,

Could you please tell me what "for dead" means in the following sentences?

They left him there for dead.

Does it mean that they thought he was dead Yes, It also implies, often, that 'they' are the ones who killed him. and left

or they thought they he was going to die?

Clive
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 dokterjokkebrok's reply was promoted to an answer.
dokterjokkebrokdeliberately (of course sometimes in a state of shock) leave the victim alone, not knowing whether this person requires medical attention or not – 'as if he were dead'.

And sometimes, not caring if the person is dead or not.
for

2 a : as being or constituting <taken for a fool>

www.m-w.com

left him 'as being' dead.
In other words, left him, assuming he was dead.

CJ
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Hi,

Which meaning would be more common for 'leave somebody for dead'?

1). Assuming that someone is dead. (e.g. two friends who are in a car crash; one manages to get out alive but is forced to leave his friend behind because the car is on fire.

2). Not caring whether someone is dead or not. (e.g. someone who runs off after stabbing someone)

- DJB -
Hi,

I'm inclined to say #2, but much depends on the overall context.

I think your question, ie Which meaning would be more common . . . ?,

is misleading, because the expression itself is not at all common.

Clive
I see. Thanks Clive.
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