missing in action

adjective

: missing and unable to be confirmed as captured or killed following military action
a soldier who was declared missing in action
The 1st Cavalry Division casualties in Operation PERSHING totalled 852 troopers killed in action, 22 missing in action, 286 killed in noncombat circumstances …Shelby L. Stanton
often used figuratively for someone or something notably or unexpectedly missing, absent, or inactive
Most readers expect an encyclopedia to give the judgment of scholars—a group largely missing in action here.Julia Vitullo-Martin
The movie itself has just resurfaced after having been missing in action for some time.Video Review
But lots of hair had turned gray (my own included); lots more was missing in action.Joseph Epstein

Examples of missing in action in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Cotswold Archaeology is working to recover the remains of a pilot who was listed as missing in action after his B-17 crashed in 1944. Stephen Smith, CBS News, 21 May 2024 This roughly 4-mile out-and-back trail starts on the refuge’s southwestern side and climbs through the hills and above the Sweetwater Reservoir before reaching the mountaintop, where there is an American flag and one honoring prisoners of war and those missing in action. Maura Fox, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 May 2024 The closest historical similarities to Ukraine’s predicament hark back to the world wars of the 20th century, where finding and identifying soldiers missing in action continues to this day. Maria Varenikova, New York Times, 5 May 2024 For nearly two weeks, Folt made no public remarks, and her silence fed a growing sense that the university’s top executive was missing in action, according to interviews with faculty, students and alumni. Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2024 Walker lamented that because he was considered missing in action, his name was absent from the many official monuments memorializing those killed during World War II. Giuseppe Ricapito, The Mercury News, 18 Mar. 2024 The event honors veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel held as prisoners of war, or listed as missing in action, and their families. Linda McIntosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Mar. 2024 The black and yellow flag is reminiscent of America's prisoners of war and those missing in action (POW/MIA) flag. Camilla Schick, CBS News, 8 Mar. 2024 In the psychological family melodrama Brothers, Gyllenhaal plays Tommy, an ex-con who takes care of his sister-in-law Grace (Natalie Portman) after his brother Sam (Tobey Maguire) goes missing in action in Afghanistan. Wesley Stenzel, EW.com, 29 Feb. 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use

1808, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of missing in action was in 1808

Dictionary Entries Near missing in action

Cite this Entry

“Missing in action.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/missing%20in%20action. Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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