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Is it correct in formal or informal usage to say that someone has gone missing? This is frequently heard on news reports and in the press.

To go missing, I believe, is a relatively recent form. But is it correct? My grammars from college, which are over 40 years old, do not cite it, and I am sure I never heard it prior to the last 5 or 10 years.

An expert opinion would be much appreciated by this former English major and teacher.

Thank you!
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I found this googling "go missing". I hope it's of any use.
Lately, however, the American press has become that professor. What set the ball rolling, I believe, was use of the verb phrase "to go missing" to mean "disappear," as in a person or object that at one moment is available and visible and subsequently is nowhere to be found. "Disappear" doesn't perfectly convey this idea -- it has too much of a Siegfried and Roy, presto-chango connotation -- but, along with its slightly more melodramatic counterpart, "vanish," it had to do the job for a long time. "Go missing" is better, but it was resisted, probably for the very reason that it sounds so British. Along with variants "went missing" and "gone missing," it appeared in The New York Times not at all in 1983, and only twice in 1993.
In 2001, however, the formulation was employed 24 times. The reason was a major national story about a person who went missing: Chandra Levy. And that year was the tipping point. In 2003, the Times had precisely 50 "go missings," and today even writers for USA Today and People use it with a straight face

It's from http://chronicle.com/free/v50/i41/41b01501.htm
I'd have to say it's correct for informal usage, and formal usage would depend on the situation and the audience.
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I am offended every time I hear reporters use the phrases go missing, gone missing, went missing. Missing is a state of being. You cannot go there, you simply are! I have been reading from your sight that it is a Bristish phrase, but I still think it sounds strange and unintelligent...
Hi,

but I still think it sounds strange and unintelligent... Yes, the British can be a bit like that, sometimes.


I think a lot of people are bothered by this expression. However, the media seem to love it.

Best wishes, Clive
Hi,

I wouldn't entirely say it's wrong. After all, you can go crazy or go fishing, although neither of these is really analogous. Certainly, it's well established now in informal use. However, it's ugly, irritating, ugly. Its use does not exactly advertise you as an educated, careful speaker.

So, what to say instead? Perhaps he disappeared, he vanished, he has not been seen or heard from since . . . In other words, you need a modest grasp of vocabulary.

Best wishes, Clive
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After Princess Diana's funeral was covered at length in the U.S.by both the U.S. and the British news media, British speaking expressions started turning up in the U.S. in the printed media and on the T.V. and radio. These include "went missing" and "indeed", both of which sound pretentious and phoney when used by the American news people.
I am so glad to see this question and the responses. I have been living in France for the last 13 years and teaching English as a Second Language. This "go missing" usage was one of my favorite examples of the differences between British and American formulations. Imagine my surprise when I moved back this summer to find the phrase all over the television. I kept asking friends and relatives about it and their eyes would just glaze over. I started to suspect that living in France for so long and speaking French day in and day out might have somehow affected my most basic understanding of American grammar. I don't particularly care for the usage. I prefer missing simply with forms of to be - is missing, has been missing...
Proper usage in a news story should be: "reported missing", "reportedly missing", or "reported to be missing".

The subject may or may not be aware of his or her surroundings, or may or may not have been seeking relative anonymity, which "going missing" seems to connotate.
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