Most Distinctive Obituary Euphemism for 'Died' in Each State


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If you’re an American alive today, chances are you’ve heard or used one of over 100 different euphemisms for death. A common reason many people don’t just say someone has “died” is a desire to not want to appear too harsh. This happens not just in everyday conversation, but also in obituaries we read in newspapers and increasingly online.

Are some expressions for dying more prevalent in obituaries than others? Are there regional variations? To find out the answers to these questions, I reached out to Legacy.com, a leading online provider of paid death notices. According to the data they provided, in 2015, they hosted 2,408,142 obituaries across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Of those, 1,341,870 included one of their 10 most common euphemisms, or the word died.

The top term is unsurprising. “Passed away” was used in 32.5 percent of all obituaries and topped the national list. In every single state, it was either “passed away” or “died” (20.6 percent nationwide at #2) that was used most often. The relative prevalence of each of these terms paints a much more diverse picture, however.

Using a similar methodology to the “Most Distinctive Causes of Death” map, I calculated the difference between the regional and national prevalence of each term. The highest value gives the phrase that is most “characteristic” to that state. As it turns out, some terms are used comparatively more often than others depending on where you’ve died—or at least where your obituary is published.

Graphic by Chloe Effron 

Every State’s Favorite Place to Spend Spring Break, Mapped

DisobeyArt, iStock via Getty Images
DisobeyArt, iStock via Getty Images

Spring break falls in March 2020 in many parts of the U.S., and if you still don't know where to go this year, check out the popular travel plans of people in your home state for some inspiration.

This map Travelocity put together using its own customer data shows the most disproportionately popular spring break destinations for residents of all 50 states and Washington, D.C. It should come as no surprise that Florida cities dominate the map. Orlando was the top springtime vacation spot of 10 states, including Texas, Georgia, and Massachusetts. Miami, Tampa, and Pensacola also appear on the list.

But not everyone craves warm weather this time of year. As college students flood their state, Florida natives flee north to Chicago. And some states farther north prefer vacation spots that are decidedly not tropical. In Idaho, spring-breakers are heading to Seattle, and in West Virginia, they're booking trips to Buffalo—neither of which are cities that come to mind when you think of margaritas and bikinis. You can find the preferences of your home state in the map below.

Map of top spring break destinations.
Travelocity

Spring break may seem like a modern phenomenon, but people have been using the arrival of the season as an excuse for debauchery since ancient Roman times. You can read more about the history of spring break here.

Here's How Daylight Saving Time Affects Your Part of the Country

Andy Woodruff
Andy Woodruff

Daylight saving time was created to benefit Americans, but not every part of the country is affected equally. Within the Eastern time zone, for instance, the sun rises a whole 40 minutes earlier in New York City than it does in Detroit. To illustrate how daylight saving time impacts sunrise and sunset times around the county, cartographer Andy Woodruff published a series of helpful maps on his website.

Below, the map on the left depicts how many days of reasonable sunrise time—defined as 7 a.m. or earlier—each part of the country is getting. The regions in the yellow sections have the most days with early sunrises and the darker parts have the fewest. On the right, the second map shows how many sunsets past 5 p.m. we’re getting each year, which appear to be a lot more abundant


Next, he visualized what these sunrise and sunset times would look like if daylight saving were abolished completely, something many people have been pushing for years. While our sunset times remain pretty much the same, the mornings start to look a lot sunnier for people all over the country, especially in places like West Texas.


And for those of you who were curious, here’s what America would look like if daylight saving time were in effect year-round. While mornings would look miserable pretty much everywhere, there’d at least be plenty of sunshine to enjoy once we got off work.


You can tinker with an interactive version of the daylight saving map on Woodruff’s blog.

All images courtesy of Andy Woodruff.

This article originally ran in 2015.

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