In Reply to: Wouldn't be caught dead... posted by Christian on March 30, 2009 at 08:54:
: "Wouldn't be caught dead wearing _______."
: Does anyone know the origin?
As a slangy metaphor, caught dead, found dead, and seen dead (wearing something like that, and similar expressions) makes its appearance near the beginning of the 20th century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. It means, of course, "Even if I were dead I wouldn't let anyone see me wearing that hat." The illogic behind this is part of the charm--it demonstrates the extremity of the feeling being expressed, as well as lending a touch of the picturesque. Don't you think the idea of dead people refusing to be seen, for instance, in the company of so-and-so is picturesque?