: missing in action
He was a U.S. Army veteran of Vietnam, where he was reported MIA for a period of time.The Pilot (Southern Pines, North Carolina)
often used figuratively for someone or something notably or unexpectedly missing, absent, or inactive
Anna Kournikova has been MIA since last month as the result of a stress fracture in her left foot.Sports Illustrated
… considered everything that could go wrong on her wedding day—lousy weather, droopy centerpieces, an MIA photographer …Jason Lynch
John Hurt … had critics and audiences marking him as a major new filmmaker. Then he went MIA [=he disappeared; he was not heard from] for five years …Stephen Rebello


2 of 2


plural MIAs also MIA's
: a member of the armed forces reported to be missing in action
Today, despite advances in casualty accounting, unanswered questions still torment many families of MIAs.David Sears
A voice from somewhere in the mess hall: "A toast to the POWs and MIAs!"Jayne Hendel
… a metal dog tag imprinted with the names of four Israeli MIA'sYossi Klein Halevi

Examples of MIA in a Sentence

Noun The fate of most MIAs in the war is still not known.
Recent Examples on the Web
Officials announced on Thursday that Walker's remains were finally accounted for, thanks to scientists at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) whose mission is to recover and return missing service members from past conflicts. Juliana Kim, NPR, 30 Mar. 2024 Concourse transit: Skytrain is an elevated train that spares MIA passengers long treks through Concourse D. Miami Herald Archives, Miami Herald, 29 Mar. 2024 In 2018, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), a military agency that aims to provide a full accounting for American missing personnel, announced a plan to disinter the remains of 652 unidentified service members from the Korean War. CBS News, 15 Mar. 2024 Walking through the front gates of the POW camp, Egan begins to recognize the familiar faces of his fellow Hundredth bomb group men who have also been MIA. Hunter Ingram, Variety, 23 Feb. 2024 This year’s ride will integrate the Miami International Autodrome (MIA) facilities that include the Paddock garages, the start/finish line of the Formula 1 Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix, and the Paddock Club to elevate the fan experience. Michelle Kaufman, Miami Herald, 22 Feb. 2024 The airport’s new Chick-fil-A is in the Jackson Square location at Concourse E near gate E2, MIA spokesman Greg Chin said. Howard Cohen, Miami Herald, 9 Feb. 2024 Both Lilith and Lucifer are now MIA, but Hell still has to endure annual assaults from Heaven to keep its potential power in check. Alison Herman, Variety, 18 Jan. 2024 The Enfield Town Council voted 6-5 this week to ban all flags from town property except for the American flag, Connecticut state flag, POW/MIA flag, and military branch flags. Stephen Underwood, Hartford Courant, 12 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'MIA.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



missing in action

First Known Use


1946, in the meaning defined above


1944, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of MIA was in 1944

Dictionary Entries Near MIA

Cite this Entry

“MIA.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/MIA. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!