In a message dated 11/30/2013 1:46:31 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx writes in a post about World Wide Words on 'drown': "I have been aware of a gap between some kind of legal or medical definition and the more common sense since a friend died in the late seventies or early eighties of "near drowning." It didn't seem like the sort of thing a person could die of." This from today's "World Wide Words", World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion 2013 http://www.worldwidewords.org. re: "a weakening in sense of drown drew numerous comments" It may have Griceian implicatures. Or not. Cheers Speranza --- "John Douglas noted that a similar shift has already occurred with electrocute, which originally meant to execute a person by means of electricity. It soon shifted to include dying by an accidental shock and has since come to mean suffering either injury or death. Gregory Harris similarly commented on starve, which originally meant to die by any means (a close relative, German sterben, retains that meaning) but in Middle English that sense was passed to die, a word from Old Norse, and starve took on the specific sense of dying through hunger; it has now become diluted in meaning to the point that it can colloquially mean merely that the speaker is very hungry; we have to say starve to death to make it clear that the process has been fatal. Michael Moore pointed out that a parallel change is beginning to take place with drown because we are seeing examples of drown to death." "Dr John Smith commented, “Common usage in the US medical community describes near-drowning as the condition following immersion from which resuscitation is successful. If unsuccessful, the patient’s death is due to drowning."" "The fuzziness about the finality of drown is not new. Dick Kenney reported, “In 1970, I went with a fellow worker onto a Massachusetts low tide flat to dig clams. He told me on the long way out that he drowned once and was wary of incoming tides. I was kind of startled by this statement as he looked pretty much alive as far as I could tell. Since then, I’ve heard other uses of drowned where the victim survived.” On the American Dialect Society list, John Baker noted a couple of examples from 1869 that referred to a person having drowned but then been resuscitated."