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The die is cast

Posted by Wes Bellmore on July 24, 2005

The phrase "The die is cast" likely has a more literal origin than the one provided on your site.

A "die" (apart from being one of a pair of dice) is a still-used term for a hollow mold used to form or "cast" things like mechanical parts and decorative statues by holding molten metal until it cools. But the "die", or mold, itself is often formed by "casting" (sort of a chicken and egg thing...you need a die to cast a die...) So if one uses the term "the die is cast", to mean "we must now rely on fate" it means the "mold is already made", and nobody can change what the result of the molding will be. A complicated explanation, but it seems likely to me. Dies (molds) of this sort were certainly used in Ceasar's time, so this may be what he alluded to as he sailed the Rubicon.