Dieing vs. dying?

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Dying and dyeing are present participles of the verbs die and dye. Dieing is not a standard English word, but it is informally associated with using a die-cut machine.

What is the difference between dieing and dying?

Dieing is a common misspelling of dying and dyeing, the present participles of the verbs die (“to expire”) and dye (“to color with a dye”). “Dieing” is not a standard English word, but the informal spelling pops up in the context of using a die-cut machine. 

Why are dying and dyeing so confusing?

There are two reasons why writers struggle to use dying and dyeing correctly:

#1. Dying and dyeing both share the same two-syllable pronunciation: dieing

In the world of grammar, we call these types of words homophones: words with similar spellings or pronunciation but very different meanings. If the concept of homophones sounds familiar, it’s because we use everyday homophones, such as affect/effect, principal/principle, and past/passed.

#2. Dying and dyeing are present participles of a verb (all ending with -ing). In other words, we use these types of verb forms for the present, past, and future continuous tenses (including the perfect continuous tense forms). 

  • Present continuous = I am dying/dyeing
  • Past continuous = She was dying/dyeing
  • Future continuous = He will be dying/dyeing
  • Present perfect continuous = We have been dying/dyeing
  • Past perfect continuous = They had been dying/dyeing
  • Future perfect continuous = It will have been dying/dyeing

Don’t forget about died vs. dyed

The verbs die and dye share the same pronunciation for their present participles, but this also occurs with their past participles: died and dyed (pronounced die-d with one syllable).

What does dieing mean?

There’s not one English dictionary that includes a definition of the verb dieing, nor would any spellchecker agree with its usage. However, some websites insist that “dieing” is the gerund of the verb die (when referencing a “die” or “die-cut machine”).

What is a die-cut machine?

A “die-cut machine” or “die-cutter” is a type of press or machine that cuts, stamps, or forms shapes from paper and other materials (often for scrapbooking, it appears). Likewise, one might use a die-cutter for stamping or engraving metals. For example,

“To make a box, Helm uses die cuts. She runs card stock or printed paper through a die-cut machine. The machine cuts the box out, and she assembles it.” — Carroll County Times

“Tesla’s Elon Musk says that by leveraging IDRA’s Giga Press die cut machine, the company was able to simplify the design for the Model 3.” — Fortune

Therefore, when someone is “dieing,” they are not coloring a piece of fabric or losing their life. Instead, they are simply creating shapes or engraving something using a “die-cut machine” (or having something made at a die shop).

Can we use dieing if it’s not a formal word?

Since “dieing” is not a recognized past participle of any verb (let alone one that could reference using a die-cutter), we recommend avoiding this term for formal writing or platforms that need to reach a broad audience’s understanding. 

What does dying mean?

The word dying is an adjective, noun, and intransitive verb that relates to the process of death or expiration. For example, 

  • “I am dying of a disease.” (verb)
  • “I am a dying woman.” (adjective)
  • “You must care for the dying.” (noun)

According to Lexico, the verb die originates from Germanic languages, where it appeared as Old Norse deyja before making its way into Middle English. The adjective use of dying arrived later during the late 16th century. 

How to use dying as a verb?

Dying” functions as the present participle of the verb die, which primarily means “to stop living.” You may recognize other forms of the verb with die/dies (present tense) and died (past participle). 

Example sentences:

  • “The man died of a single shot to the chest.”
  • “By the final act, the protagonist’s curiosity led them to die.”
  • “The reality of life is that everyone dies in the end.”
  • “What are the odds of dying in a game of dice?”

The verb die has several other connotations around the topic of death. For instance, the phrase “die out” means “to become extinct,” while “die-off” means “to die one after another until few or none are left.” 

Less formal usage happens to reference activities, objects, or entities. For example, we can pair the verb die with an adverb to mean “to become less loud,” or it can mean “to stop functioning” (machinery) or “run out of electric charge” (of a device).

Example sentences:

  • “The rare tortoise species is slowly dying out.”
  • “The mass extinction of insects will cause all life on Earth to die off.”
  • “Let’s wait for the crowd to start dying down before we head out.”
  • “Allergy season tends to die out by late September.”
  • “Business in the local town has been dying for some time.”

Lastly, the verb die may informally mean “to be very eager for something” or emphasize how strongly someone is affected by emotion (such as “dying of boredom” or “dying to go”). 

Example sentences:

  • “After reading the new comments in the AskReddit post, I was dying of embarrassment.”
  • “My brother is dying to play the new Battlefield for PS4.”
  • “The waiter looked as though he were dying of boredom.”


Checking out, croaking, deceasing, departing, ending, expiring, fading, going, kicking the bucket, parting, passing away, perishing, succumbing.


Breathing, coming to, existing, flourishing, lingering, living, prospering, reviving, thriving.

How to use dying as an adjective?

The adjective dying describes something as “on the point of death,” “declining,” or “completed just before death.” As an adjective, dying is synonymous with the phrase “at death’s door,” which means “nearly dead.”

Example sentences:

  • “Max Rushmore feared Latin was a dying language.”
  • “In the dying moments of daylight, we watched the storm approach the horizon.”
  • “The couple could not avoid their dying affections.”
  • “The child is comforting Benji, his dying dog.”


Declining, deteriorating, expiring, fading, moribund, passing away, sinking.


Booming, flourishing, prospering, surviving, thriving.

How to use dying as a noun?

As a mass noun, the word dying references all people or beings that are close to death. 

Example sentences:

  • “Where shall we place the dying?”
  • “The dying must relocate to the facility’s hospice wing.”
  • “The minister finds peace in comforting the dying.”


Expiring, declining, fading, ill, perishing, terminal, waning.

What does dyeing mean?

Dyeing is the past participle of the verb dye, which means “to add color” or “change the color of an object by soaking it in a special solution containing dye.” Additional verb forms of dye include dye/dyes for the present tense and dyed as the past participle.

Example sentences:

  • “Kids these days are dyeing their hair blonde and purple.”
  • “We are dyeing the shirts pink in solidarity with our friend.”
  • “It’s not uncommon for hairdressers to fire clients who repeatedly dye their hair using box colors.”
  • “I can’t believe he dyed the curtains that ugly green color.”


Brightening, coloring, color-washing, darkening, lightening, shading, staining, tinging, tinting, painting, pigmenting, washing.

Are the words death and dying the same?

The word death is not the same as dying (or any other form of the verb die), but it is a part of the dying process. “Death” is a noun that references the result of dying, being killed, or the state of being dead. 

The noun death often appears in idioms or medical terminology, such as: 

  • Death’s door: The state of a living person or animal that is close to dying. 
  • Bored to death: The feeling of boredom so severe that it is lethal.
  • Brain death: The complete loss of brain functioning. 
  • A matter of life and death: A situation that requires action to prevent unnecessary death.

Example sentences:

  • “There are several preventable diseases that can cause brain death.”
  • “The heart attack, paired with lifelong diabetes, brought the patient to death’s door.”
  • “The linguistics lecture left us feeling bored to death.”
  • “Quitting smoking is a matter of life and death.”

Additional reading

If you enjoy learning about homophones and other commonly misspelled words, be sure to check out the following lessons on The Word Counter:

Test Yourself!

Test how well you understand the difference between dieing and dying with the following multiple-choice questions. 

  1. True or false?: Dieing is a common misspelling of the word dying
    1. True
    2. False
  2. What is the main difference between dieing and dying?
    1. Dieing and dying are different verbs
    2. Dying is a verb, adjective, and noun
    3. Dieing is not a standard English word
    4. All of the above
  3. The word dieing is a _________________.
    1. Past participle of a verb
    2. Adjective
    3. Present participle of a verb
    4. None of the above
  4. The word dyeing is a _________________
    1. Past participle of a verb
    2. Adjective
    3. Noun
    4. All of the above
  5. One that is dying is not _____________.
    1. In a lifeless state
    2. Coloring a piece of fabric
    3. On the precipice of death
    4. Feeling well
  6. Which of the following is not a synonym for the noun dying?
    1. Ill
    2. Misery
    3. Terminal
    4. Declining

Choose the correct spellings for the following sentences. 

  1. “We are ___________ a batch of gold medals for track athletes.”
    1. Dying
    2. Dyeing
    3. Dieing
    4. None of the above
  2. “I saw her ___________ a whole ball of yarn.”
    1. Dying
    2. Dyeing
    3. Dieing
    4. Death
  3. “Students are ___________ of boredom by mid-July.”
    1. Dying
    2. Dyeing
    3. Dieing
    4. Death
  4. “The vocabulary lesson bored us to ___________.”
    1. Dying
    2. Dyeing
    3. Dieing
    4. Death

Quiz Answers

  1. A
  2. D
  3. D
  4. A
  5. B
  6. B
  7. D
  8. B
  9. A
  10. D


At death’s door.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., 2021.

Die.” Lexico, Oxford University Press, 2021.

Dye.” Cambridge Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Dying.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th ed., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2021. 

Dying.” Lexico, Oxford University Press, 2021.

Dying.” The Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster Inc., 2021.

Death.”Lexico, Oxford University Press, 2021.

Garner, B. “Dying; dyeing.” Garner’s Modern American Usage, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 312.

McNulty, L. “An Eye for Art: Taneytown paper crafter makes cards for any occasion, and more.” Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, 28 Feb 2021.

Mcelroy, N. G. “The makings of a triple threat talent pool: How universities are preparing the next generation of designers and C-suite execs.” Fortune, 24 Aug 2021.

Photo contributors: Kelly Sikkema (@kellysikkema) and Pierre Bamin (@bamin) on Unsplash.