phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Dead, dead, dead

Posted by ESC on March 01, 2002

In Reply to: A few more western ones posted by Word Camel on February 28, 2002

: : : : : : When my great grandfather was a cowboy. On his death bed, he held my grandfather's hand and said "I'm going over the Big Ridge. Look after your mama." I doubt the euphamism was his invention, I think it was probably just what they called it at the time - at least on the high plains in the United States. It's an apt metaphor for that part of the country.

: : : : : : Anyway, I got to wondering if there were other regional euphamisms for death or dying. Somthing along the lines of "I'll be sleeping with the 'gators" for Florida maybe?

: : : : : : And while I'm packing them in, another euphamism I like is "pushing up daisies". I think it's British but I'd be interested in its origin if anyone knows it.

: : : : : There is the vicious euphemism "improved the gene pool" favoured by The Darwin Awards.

: : : : : Monty Python's the Parrot Sketch is really just a list of such:
: : : : : He's NOT pining - he's passed on!
: : : : : This parrot is no more.
: : : : : He has ceased to be.
: : : : : He's expired and gone to meet his maker.
: : : : : It's a stiff.
: : : : : Bereft of life, he rests in peace.
: : : : : If you hadn't nailed him to the perch, he'd be pushing up the daisies.
: : : : : He's off the twig.
: : : : : He's shuffled off this mortal coil.
: : : : : He's run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible
: : : : : ... ...
: : : : : Vis-a-vis the metabolic processes, he's had his lot.
: : : : : All statements to the effect that this parrot is still a going concern are henceforth inoperative. This is an EX-parrot.

: : : : : TheUnlurker

: : : : Ooh-ooh! Simulpostings! They're like busses, no-one posts for days and then fourteen come along all at once.

: : : : It's enough to make one think to do oneself in.
: : : : (Was that English?)

: : : : TheUnlurker

: : : The fact that two of you instantly referred to the Parrot Sketch is both frightening and inspiring.

: : One that I heard in southern West Virginia isn't really a euphemism. It refers to the time period between death and burial. (The body isn't buried immediately -- a "wake" or "visitation" is held in the home or, more commonly now, the funeral home.) "Snow hasn't drifted that deep since John lay a corpse." Others: "No longer with us." "Gone to a better world." "Gone to be with the angels." Asleep in the arms of God." "Crossed over."

: : I heard someone in WV refer to a death by gunshot: "He got his popcorn." Another violent death reference: "He got his killin' done."

: : I believe the Salvation Army says their dearly departed are "promoted to glory."

: I found two more in my grandfather's book. "laying down and curling up my toes", "pushing up sod".

And a few more...

From the "Wordsworth Book of Euphemism" by Judith S. Neaman and Carole G. Silver (Wordsworth Editions, Hertfordshire, 1995):
a one-way ticket (or ride) (gangster expression)
a pale horse (death) (Revelation 6:8)
at peace
be under the daisies
become a landowner (be buried)
bow out (theatrical)
cash in one's checks
cashed in his chips (poker)
crossing over the River Jordan (black spiritual)
curtains (theatrical)
doing a dance in mid-air (cowboy - hung)
gone across or over the creek (violent death)
gone out
gone to a better place (or to sleep)
gone under
grounded for good (die as a soldier)
hang up one's harness (or hat or tackle) (cowboy)
in the Hereafter
it's taps (military)
jumped the last hurdle (steeple-chasing or fox-hunting)
laid to rest
lose a decision (boxing)
making the ultimate sacrifice (die as a soldier)
necktie party (cowboy - hung)
negative patient outcome (modern medicine)
no longer with us
old Floorer (death personified, 15th century poem)
pass out of the picture (maybe early cinematography)
pay day (1600s)
pay Saint Peter a visit (20th century American)
pop off
promoted to glory (Salvation Army)
Requiescat in pace (RIP)
rest in peace (RIP)
ring off
settle one's accounts
snuffed out (adapted from Shakespeare)
switch out the lights (theatrical)
take a count or take a long count or the last count (boxing)
take a long walk off a short pier (gangster)
take the last bow (theatrical)
Texas cakewalk (hung)
the big jump (cowboy's expression)
the call of God
the final call
the final curtain (theatrical)
the final summons (from imagery in Revelations)
the Great Leveller (Death personified)
the Great Whipper (Death personified, British term of the 1860s from fox-hunting)
the Grim Reaper (Death personified. First use may be Longfellow's "The Reaper and the Flowers," 1839)
the last getaway (gangster)
the last muster (die as a soldier)
to be at rest
to be blown over the creek (violent death)
to be cut off
to be gone to a better place
to be human fruit; strange fruit (Black expression for lynching)
to be in (or rest in) Abraham's bosom
to be in Heaven
to be present at the last roll call (die as a soldier)
to be trumped (cards)
to be with God
to be with our Father
to be with the angels
to check out
to count the daisies
to croak
to cross over
to cut one's stick (refers to carving a new walking stick)
to dangle in the sheriff's frame (British, late 1800s)
to decorate a cottonwood tree (cowboy)
to do one's bit (die as a soldier)
to drop hooks or pop off the hooks (may be irreverent allusion to the nailing of Christ on the cross)
to fire one's last shot (die as a soldier)
to go home in a box (military)
to go the way of all flesh (Douay Bible's translation of III Kings 2:3)
to go to one's last (or just) reward
to go to one's long home (Ecclesiastes, 12:5)
to go to the hereafter
to go to the last roundup (cowboy)
to go up Salt River (political)
to go West (early use: Scots poet Gray, 1515. Probably to the setting sun.)
to have a funeral in one's family (gangster)
to have found rest
to have one's name inscribed in the Book of Life (Jewish)
to hop the last rattler (1915 term for fast freight train)
to join the Immortals or be among the Immortals
to jump the last hurdle (cowboy's expression)
to lay down your shovel (or hoe)
to lay down's one's life (to die for country or cause)
to lose or to have lost someone
to pay the debt of nature
to quit it or to quit the scene (Black English)
to slip off (nautical)
to strike out (baseball)
tossed in his alley (marbles)
wearing cement shoes (or overshoes or overcoat) (gangster)
weighted down with his boots (cowboy's expression)

From my own collection:
death by HMO (health maintenance organization)
make the O-sign (open mouth) or the Q-sign (open mouth + tongue) (modern medicine)

From This Dog'll Really Hunt: An Entertaining Texas Dictionary by Wallace O. Chariton (Wordware Publishing, Piano, Texas, 1989, 1990):
answered the last roll call
don't have the pulse of a pitchfork
just coyote bait
on a stoney lonesome
pushing up bluebonnets
ready for a cold slab
shook hands with eternity
turned belly up (refers to animals turning belly up when dead)
turned up his toes

The state of being really, really dead:

From Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 2000):
"deader than a pelcher (pilchard) - Indisputably dead. Variations are 'deader than a mackerel' and 'deader than a duck." (Yankee Talk)
"dead as a beef - Completely dead. With no life.dead as a hammer - Without any life at all." (Whistlin' Dixie: A Dictionary of Southern Expressions)
"dead as four o'clock - Quite dead, refers to either the 'dead' end of the afternoon, or the quiet of four o'clock in the morning." (Mountain Range)

From This Dog'll Really Hunt: An Entertaining Texas Dictionary by Wallace O. Chariton (Wordware Publishing, Piano, Texas, 1989, 1990):
dead as hell in a preacher's backyard or a parson's parlor
as a 6-card poker hand
as Santa Anna
as a lightning bug in the cream pitcher
as a drowned cat in a goldfish bowl
as a rotten stump

Now I'm REALLY REALLY depressed.

© 1997 – 2024 All rights reserved.