missing in action


: 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-MartinThe movie itself has just resurfaced after having been missing in action for some time.Video ReviewBut lots of hair had turned gray (my own included); lots more was missing in action.Joseph Epstein

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Bill Triplett made calls, learned about the attack over Kassel and was told his brother was listed as missing in action. Thallman, oregonlive, 1 Apr. 2023 One month after his return, Carrillo was reported missing in action. Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times, 28 Mar. 2023 Except this time, Prince Charming (Cameron Loyal) is missing in action. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 27 Mar. 2023 The actual, non-bronze Prince Charming is missing in action, which means that his brother, Sebastian (Jordan Dobson) stands to inherit the throne. Vulture, 25 Mar. 2023 The event is open to 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, 24 Mar. 2023 Since the acquisition of Irving, Dallas has played nine games with both Doncic and Irving on the court (going 3-6) and nine games with either Irving or Doncic or both missing in action. Brad Townsend, Dallas News, 22 Mar. 2023 Twenty years ago, in March 2003, Lori Piestewa, a U.S. soldier, was listed as missing in action during the hellish and confused early hours of America’s war in Iraq. Alex Horton, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Mar. 2023 Armored vehicles such as the T-62 medium tank (seen above) and the BTR-50P armored personnel carrier are serving on the front line or headed that way, while Russia’s new generation of Armata, Bumerang, and Kurganets fighting vehicles are missing in action. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 8 Mar. 2023 See More

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 5 Jun. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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