I have translated death into Spanish. There are three translations there: "muerte f", "deceso m" and "fallecimiento m".

I am studying the difference between them.

What is the difference among them?

hypothesis: "muerte" can also be a result of killing, "deceso" and "fallecimiento" are more formal

  • 1
    Death is a sensitive topic, hence derives a lot of euphemisms and words more or less formal, delicate and affected. Probably have some difference, someone will respond, but basically mean the same thing. I add defunción an óbito.
    – Rodrigo
    Oct 25, 2016 at 18:38
  • You should add the verb finar as a synonymous of morir
    – Jdamian
    Dec 5, 2020 at 11:19

3 Answers 3


Well, interestingly enough each of the links in your inquiry is to the Diccionario de la lengua española definition, so I am guessing that the insight each provides is not sufficient. Here's my take on each of the words you are studying:

muerte, fallecimiento, deceso

These three words are nouns that can be used in the singular as well as the plural. They are largely interchangeable as in

provocó la muerte / el fallecimiento / deceso (caused the death)
noticia de la muerte / del fallecimiento / deceso (notice of death)
fecha de muerte / fallecimiento / deceso (date of death)
prematura muerte / prematuro fallecimiento / deceso (premature death)
reciente muerte / fallecimiento / deceso (recent death)
condolencias por la muerte / el fallecimiento / deceso (condolences on ...)

and can be used as an idea or an event. (See my comment in response to Pablo Chávex's answer.)

Nevertheless, it is likely certain turns of phrase require one or the other. I am not a native speaker of Spanish, but it appears that "muerte" must be used in the following phrases (or is far more common):

pena de muerte (death penalty)
condenado a muerte (condemned to death)
amenazas de muerte (death threats)
sentencia de muerte (death sentence)

I did not find any fixed/set phrase or collocation for "fallecimiento" that could not also be used with "muerte" or "deceso," but I am not a native speaker so if anyone knows otherwise, please correct me.

On the other hand, I did find a few phrases with deceso that did not appear to be interchangeable with "muerte" or "fallecimiento" (or if they were, the meaning was slightly more literal and less idiomatic than the phrase you see below with "trágico").

seguro de decesos (funeral insurance)
trágico deceso (tragic passing)

As mentioned, "deceso" is interchangeable with "muerte" and "fallecimiento," but it is far less frequently used in general.

If you look up "death" on Wikipedia and then link over to the Spanish page for the same, you will be taken to Spanish Wikipedia's page on "Muerte." (And if you search for "Fallecimiento," you'll be redirected to the page on "Muerte.")

All three nouns can be traced back to a Latin root.

The famous play Death of a Salesman is translated into Spanish as Muerte de un viajante.


Last, but not least, we have "fallecer," which is a verb and the one from which "fallecimiento" derives. It is synonymous with "morir." Both mean "to die." However, according to Fundéu (Fundación del Español Urgente), there are some who believe that "fallecer" is to be used only for "natural" death. According to the Royal Spanish Academy, this is not true; "fallecer" can be used for any type of death. That said, the Fundéu page also adds that "fallecer" should be used with people and not animals. From this, I assume that "morir" is the more appropriate term to use for animal deaths. Again, I am not a native speaker, so if any of you see a need to correct what I've written, please do so.

Collocation information was retrieved from Linguatools. For more collocations (I only looked at the first page for this answer), visit the following links:


By the way, "muerte" had 2,756 collocations; "fallecimiento," 306; and "deceso," 22.


  1. The nouns "muerte," "fallecimiento," and "deceso" are largely interchangeable, but "fallecimiento" seems to be more formal and there are set phrases with "muerte" that would sound odd if you replaced them with "fallecimiento" or "deceso."

  2. With the exception of "fallecer" all three are nouns and all three can be found in the singular as well as the plural.

  3. According to some schools of thought, "fallecer" is only to be used with people and not for animals. The verb "morir" can be used with both.


'Muerte' Is a noun. Is an idea. It refers to the idea of 'death'. ¿Tienes miedo a la muerte? - Are you afraid of death? (we are not talking about fear of dying, we are talking about fear of the idea of death)

'Muerto' is a noun. A dead person.

'Morir' is a verb. Die.

Deceso y fallecimiento, Are nouns. Are events.

El deceso ocurrió a las 12:30. - El señor falleció en su hogar.

Hope this helps you.

  • 1
    You all have forgotten the verb finar... besides the informal/local idioms such as estirar la pata.
    – Jdamian
    Oct 26, 2016 at 7:20
  • Careful: muerto is an adjective, not a noun.
    – Schwale
    Oct 29, 2016 at 0:29
  • 1
    Sorry. Yes, muerto can also be used as adjective {El hombre muerto}. But it can also be used as noun {El muerto que llevan}. Nov 16, 2016 at 20:00
  • Interesting concept, but I think it is also correct to write/say: Su muerte ocurrió en ... Here, "muerte" would refer to an event. In fact, you can find 43 instances of this on El País alone.
    – Lisa Beck
    Dec 2, 2020 at 9:00

Muerte se usa habitualmente cuando hablamos. Es un concepto general y puede referirse a algo acontecido, que esta por llegar, o solo es una idea. Es el sustantivo. El verbo sería morir.

Ejemplos uso sustantivo:

Mucha gente teme la muerte.

Fumar te conducirá a la muerte. (expresión cotidiana)

Vivir supone una muerte segura.

Ejemplos uso verbo:

Mucha gente teme morir.

Fumar te conducirá a morir. (suena raro pero no tiene nada malo)

Vivir supone morir seguro. (suena raro pero no tiene nada malo)

Juan se murió el lunes.

Deceso y fallecimiento son más formales. Deceso se usa raramente, en documentos básicamente, y es sustantivo. Fallecimiento es sustantivo y fallecer el verbo. Se usan en documentos y para hablar (aunque más formalmente que morir o muerte).

Ejemplos con sustantivo

Mucha gente teme el fallecimiento.

Fumar te conducirá al fallecimiento. (suena muy raro pero no tiene nada malo)

Vivir supone un fallecimiento seguro. (suena bastante raro pero no tiene nada malo)

Mucha gente teme fallecer. (suena raro pero no tiene nada malo)

Ejemplos con verbo

Fumar te conducirá a fallecer. (suena raro pero no tiene nada malo)

Vivir supone fallecer seguro. (suena raro pero no tiene nada malo)

Juan falleció el lunes.

Ha fallecido Pepito Palotes, el entierro...

Ah. Una cosa más morir / muerte se aplica a todo, personas, animales, plantas... incluso se habla de la muerte de objetos:

Las estrellas mueren después de cientos de miles de años.

Se ha muerto mi TV. tengo que comprarme otra.

Deceso y fallecimiento se usan con personas.

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