\ ˌem-(ˌ)ī-ˈā How to pronounce MIA (audio) \

Definition of MIA

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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 inactiveAnna 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 LynchJohn 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


plural MIAs or less commonly MIA's

Definition of MIA (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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's— Yossi Klein Halevi

Examples of MIA in a Sentence

Noun The fate of most MIAs in the war is still not known.

First Known Use of MIA


1946, in the meaning defined above


1944, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for MIA


missing in action

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Cite this Entry

“MIA.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/MIA. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of MIA

chiefly US : a soldier who was not found after a battle and who may or may not be dead : a soldier who is missing in action

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