Posted by R. Berg on January 10, 2003
In Reply to: Severance pay posted by Kathy on January 10, 2003
: Someone suggested that this term derives from the good ol' days of beheading when you paid the ax weilder extra money to be swift and painless. I think it's true that there was a such a practice but I doubt it's the origin of the phrase. Any ideas?
Severance is separation, in this case the separation of an employee from the firm. The employee receives money on the occasion of separating from the firm. To be analogous to severance pay, the money in the transaction suggested by your imaginative newsbearer would have had to be paid to the head on its separation from the body.