Posted by Masakim on September 07, 2001
In Reply to: To die with your boots on. posted by JaneS on January 19, 2001
: : : Where did the saying "die with your boots on" come from and what does it mean.
: : This probably comes from the old West. If you died sick and/or old, you died in your bed with your boots off. If you died in a gunfight, you died with your boots on.
: I've also heard it used to describe someone who worked every single day of their lives. But, I like the gunfighter meaning best!
A name given to the frontier cemetery because most of its early occupants died with their boots on. The name has had an appeal as part of the romantic side of the West and has become familiar as representing the violent end of a reckless life.
From Western Words: A Dictionary of the American West by Ramon F. Adams (University of Oklahoma Press, 1968)
die with one's boots Also, die in harness.
Expire while working, keep working to the end....
Both phrases probably allude to soldiers who died on active duty. Until the early 1600s the noun "boot" denoted a piece of armor for the legs, which may have given rise to this usage....
From The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer