Passing Out.

In a recent exchange of messages in our Senior Citizens group, two long lost classmates from our National Defence Academy tried to place each other by asking when each had passed out. They obviously meant this kind of passing out where the ritual of throwing a cadet is normal. This is from one of our Officers’ Training Academies.

It is also quite common to ask fellow alumni in our Business School Alumni meeting to ask each other as to when one passed out.

If I am around and I get a word in, I inevitably ask “how and when did you revive?”

For me, this is what is meant by passing out:
My mind keeps asking why people cannot use the word graduating instead of passing out. I think that it is more appropriate. What do you, my dear reader, think?

15 thoughts on “Passing Out.”

  1. I’d never heard of “passing out” as graduating before you mentioned it. Is it an Americanism? Or Australian/New Zealandian?

    Passing out (fainting) is not nice. One time (not for the first) it happened to me was when our biology teacher unrolled a chart depicting the innards of the female body. I was ten. I knew I was about to faint, blood seeping out of my head. So put up my hand but before I could say anything I had slid off my chair, bumped my head on the edge of same chair and disappeared underneath the table. When I came to my teacher (he was gangly and very tall) was carrying me down the stairs to the school’s office where I had my own Scarlett O’Hara moment (minus the smelling salts). Talk about being “swept off your feet”.


    1. It is a British Military usage and since our English is inherited from them as are many Military traditions, this term too has come in to usage in India. Quite why civilians here should use it is what amuses me.

  2. Ursula, not a phrase from NZ, graduation/yes. Rummuser, some strange sayings in any type of field, one only used by those in such a field, either as a type of in-house slang or terminology. Which then is misunderstood by outsiders, to mean something else .
    English as we assume but then not!

  3. here in America I’ve heard the term ‘passing muster’ as in getting a passing grade in a test or whatever. usually in military.
    but never passing out. it means the same… temporarily losing consciousness! here they graduate.
    but young people have so much slang… like the currently favored “dope” for when they like something! as in “man… that’s really dope!”
    nobody ever just DIES here either. it has become very popular to
    PASS ON! or simply just “passed.” to me it’s weird!

    1. Tammy, sorry, it’s not a laughing matter, but your mention of “passed on” made me think of the expression “passing up” – you know, when someone has just about had it and commits suicide. Not that that will ever make it into polite society and/or an obituary.


    2. In India English is often influenced by our colonial links to Britain and this usage in the Military is one of them. Besides such language, many British Military tradtions are also in force in our Military even today.

  4. I definitely prefer graduating! To me passing out means the same as you described with the poor lady on the floor. I do enjoy hearing different phrases though, so thank you for sharing!

  5. I thought it was as military term (too lazy to check that right now) as in to do with parading or some such and I know there is Passby as well which is marching in front of the dignitaries.

    I was married to a militia guy and I knew he used the passing out term.

    We never used the word graduate in Ireland. It was “passed” but not out.

    In my time I passed out a lot. 🙂 🙁


    1. You are right. It is British Military terminology. We too use pass to graduate from one class to an upper one and eventually out of school or college. Those graduates using passing out is what amuses me.

  6. In my mind “passing out” is a military or police graduation. Everyone else “graduates”
    Actually, I think the police here have changed their terminology to graduation.
    Which do I prefer? I don’t mind but I don’t like that grey fuzz that happens just in the moment before fainting!

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