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Idioms Related to Death


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:laugh: Okay this topic was inspired by the "Murder" topic because when I saw that topic all I can think of were death-related idioms.

I'll start with the following:

  • Dead man walking - referring to a person who's in serious trouble and about to be punished.
  • A matter of life and death - when we are referring to a situation that's extremely important.
  • Never say die - It's like saying never lose hope.
  • Sick to death - when you had enough of something and just can't take it anymore.
  • Brush with death - refers to a situation where you almost died.

Feel free to add yours.  :smile:

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"Six feet under" is a commonly known one, I think. It means to be dead and buried and it's probably mostly used to serve as a euphemism which is common to use for such a tragic event. A few other ones are to pass away or to pass on, but I'm not sure if these are exactly idioms, although they are surely figures of speech.

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Fantastic thread! Let me add some more 'Death idioms'

  • Over your dead body: — This is an expression of defiance. If you say that something will happen over your dead body, you mean that you will do anything to prevent it
  • From the cradle to the grave: — The whole of your life
  • Dead set against: — Completely be opposed to something (idea; plan; suggestion, etc)
  • To be half dead: — To be extremely tired
  • Dead even:— If people competing are dead even, it means they are at exactly the same stage or moving at exactly the same speed.

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Over your dead body: — This is an expression of defiance. If you say that something will happen over your dead body, you mean that you will do anything to prevent it

Actually this is one of the few idioms that I frequently use.  Now I'm wondering why I didn't remember it during my original posts.  :confused:

"Sleep with the fishes" - this is the first time I've learned about it.  :grin:

Anyway, here's another batch of death-related idioms:

1. Kill time - refers to doing something to amuse oneself while waiting to pass the time.

2. Dead meat - often use to threaten someone that they're going to be in trouble. Ex. You're dead meat if you betray me.

3. Play dice with death - when you do something that is extremely dangerous that can even get you killed.

4. Dead wrong - use to describe a person when he/she is absolutely and undeniably wrong.

:smile:

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I think "sleep with the fishes" is related to the mafia. It means when someone has been murdered by the mafia and they've dumped the body into the ocean - so they're sleeping with the fishes. I don't think you would use it for a regular death, it's quite specific.

Some more that I know are:

"Pushing up daisies", meaning someone is dead and buried.

"Dead as a dodo" or "Dead as a doornail", meaning definitely dead.

"Croak", which means die. I think this is an Australian one. You use it like "He croaked".

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Some idioms I know of and think are quite quirky, are...

"Gone for a Burton", this was thought to have originated in the UK during WWII amongst the air force troops and was used to indicate that someone had died in action.

"Pop your clogs", if I'm not mistaken, in the Victorian times 'pop' meant 'pawn'. And a working man who knows he is close to death may sell or pawn his clothes and clogs(which would have been he's most expensive, valuable possession), to pay for his funeral.

"Tango Uniform", This is to do with the phonetic alphabet and means 'Tits Up'. Its another phrase that originated with air force troops. It can be applied to people, animals and machinery that are broken, dead or out of commission.

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Here are a few I thought of:

"To give up the ghost" -- To die.

"Dead to the world"  -- To be asleep, especially a deep sleep. 

"Dead ringer" -- something or someone extremely similar  to another. 

"Scared to death" -- Extremely frightened.

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A few more:

Dice with death - do something dangerous

Till one's dying day - lasting for a lifetime.

Cheat death - narrowly avoid getting killed/getting into serious problems.

Ghost town - one of those 'have-been' towns. It's now on the decline, people are moving out . . . it's

                  literary dead.

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Some idioms that are not that familiar to me (just learned about them today):

Watery grave

If someone has gone to a watery grave, they have drowned.

Grass widow

A grass widow is a woman whose husband is often away on work, leaving her on her own.

Gallows humour

If people try to make fun or laugh when things are very frightening, dangerous, life-threatening or hopeless, it is gallows humour (or "gallows humor").

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A few others that I can think of since most of those I know are already listed.

-Kick the bucket.

-Dead serious

-Bury the hatchet

-Kill the goose that lay the golden egg

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A few others that I can think of since most of those I know are already listed.

-Kick the bucket.

-Dead serious

-Bury the hatchet

-Kill the goose that lay the golden egg

That is new to me  :grin:

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So Litnax, these are commonly used in my country but I guess not everywhere.

-Kick the bucket, another way of saying someone has died.

-Dead serious, term used to let someone know that you meant what you just said.

-Bury the hatchet,means, let's put our difference behind and move on.

-Kill the goose that lay the golden egg,means, to get rid of something or someone that is overly important      to a cause.

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Reminds me of the Monty Python skit this thread does:

You see this parrot... well he um....

He's passed on.

He has ceased to be.

He's expired and gone to meet his maker.

He's a stiff.

He rests in peace.

He'd be pushing up daisies.

He's off the twig.

He's kicked the bucket.

He's shuffled off his mortal coil.

Run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.

To add a bit further - he's gone and keeled over, departed this life, entered upon an eternal sabbath of rest, was summoned to appear before his judge, has assumed room temperature, kicked off, died with his boots on, bit the big one, bought the farm, cashed in his chips, fell off his perch, gave up the ghost, went to the big cage in the sky, pegged out, was promoted to glory, decided on a dirt nap, put on his pine overcoat and caught the last train to glory.

And if that isn't enough ways to say someone has gone off this mortal stage I haven't anything more then a

shrug for you.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Wow, this is so macabre and cool at the same time. I didn't know the English language had a lot of euphemisms for death. I guess this is only natural, after all, we have so many expressions for life or birth, as well.

The first idiom I've encountered for death is in the song by Queen: another one 'bite's the dust' *insert bass line here*

If I recall correctly, Davy Jones' locker is also a term for death.

Wow, is it just me or do I get my idioms from pop culture?  :laugh:

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Another idiom relating to death that I often think I often think about is "someone walking on my grave". It is that sudden chill that you feel on a warm day, or if a dark cloud passes in a sunny sky. You feel as if your death is imminent or that someone is plotting your demise. I find that very disturbing.

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  • 1 month later...

Wow, this is so macabre and cool at the same time. I didn't know the English language had a lot of euphemisms for death. I guess this is only natural, after all, we have so many expressions for life or birth, as well.

The first idiom I've encountered for death is in the song by Queen: another one 'bite's the dust' *insert bass line here*

If I recall correctly, Davy Jones' locker is also a term for death.

Wow, is it just me or do I get my idioms from pop culture?  :laugh:

Agree!  It's fun though.  :grin: Anyway can someone tell me if "Knockin' on heaven's door" count as an death-related idiom too?

By the way, here's another one that I just learned from the internet.  :smile:

Beat a dead horse - to force an issue to something that is already closed or irrelevant.  Like keep on talking about something that you can no longer change.

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Bite the bullet is one of my favorite death euphemisms.

These can even be used in insults! Instead of using profanity, you could achieve the same effect by telling someone to "go drink rat poison" or "go drown in a lake".

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Some idioms I know of and think are quite quirky, are...

"Gone for a Burton", this was thought to have originated in the UK during WWII amongst the air force troops and was used to indicate that someone had died in action.

"Pop your clogs", if I'm not mistaken, in the Victorian times 'pop' meant 'pawn'. And a working man who knows he is close to death may sell or pawn his clothes and clogs(which would have been he's most expensive, valuable possession), to pay for his funeral.

"Tango Uniform", This is to do with the phonetic alphabet and means 'Tits Up'. Its another phrase that originated with air force troops. It can be applied to people, animals and machinery that are broken, dead or out of commission.

Gone for a burton, Pop your clogs and Tango Uniform - all new to me.  All with very interesting back story too.  Thanks for sharing. :smile:

Here's a couple more death idioms:

>> To die with one's boots on - To die while doing an activity.

>> To meet one's maker - To die.

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  • 1 year later...
On ‎3‎/‎7‎/‎2014‎ ‎6‎:‎41‎:‎27‎, emilyrose93 said:

I think "sleep with the fishes" is related to the mafia. It means when someone has been murdered by the mafia and they've dumped the body into the ocean - so they're sleeping with the fishes. I don't think you would use it for a regular death, it's quite specific.

 

Some more that I know are:

 

"Pushing up daisies", meaning someone is dead and buried.

"Dead as a dodo" or "Dead as a doornail", meaning definitely dead.

"Croak", which means die. I think this is an Australian one. You use it like "He croaked".

Actually, in America, we used "croak" as well.

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  • 7 months later...

"Going up to the spirit in the sky" is one I have heard from a song. 

I have also heard the term "dancing on my grave" as related to "walking over my grave" but have never had that one fully explained to me. From what I can glean I am guessing it's some sign of disrespect?

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  • 1 year later...
On 28.8.2016 at 3:11 AM, aviendha said:

"Going up to the spirit in the sky" is one I have heard from a song. 

I have also heard the term "dancing on my grave" as related to "walking over my grave" but have never had that one fully explained to me. From what I can glean I am guessing it's some sign of disrespect?

that would also be my guess. Very interesting, indeed!

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