Posted by Shae on January 05, 2005
In Reply to: Kick the Bucket posted by Mark Adamson on January 05, 2005
: I understood the phrase to come from hanging. When a criminal was hung - particularly where there were no formal gallows, a rope would be placed around his neck and put over the bow of a tree. The criminal would be stood upon a bucket. The executioner, soldier or other appointed person would then "kick the bucket" from under the feet of the villain causing him to drop. I beleive this originates in England.
My understanding is that it is the person who dies that 'kicks the bucket.' The Online Etymology Dictionary gives the following:
Bucket: 1248, from Anglo-Norm. buquet "bucket, pail," infl. by or dim. of O.E. buc "pitcher, bulging vessel," orig. "belly" (buckets were formerly of leather as well as wood), from P.Gmc. *bukaz, from PIE root *bhou-, variant of base *bheu- "to grow, swell."
Kick the bucket: perhaps is from unrelated O.Fr. buquet "balance," a beam from which slaughtered animals were hung; perhaps reinforced by the notion of suicide by hanging.
See also - the meaning and origin of Kick the bucket.