Turn in his grave

Posted by Masakim on March 20, 2003

In Reply to: Turn in his grave posted by R. Berg on March 20, 2003

: : 'make Shakespeare turn in his grave.' Does anybody know its origin and meaning? Thanks!

: I don't know when people started saying that some event would make Shakespeare or Newton or Gertrude Stein turn in his or her grave. This common expression means that what happened is so improper in some way (morally, esthetically, strategically, . . . ) that it would upset a dead person who, in life, had been an authority in the relevant field.

Enough to Make Him Turn His Grave. A shocking or disturbing event or idea, particularly one running against the principles of someone now dead. James Payn's _Lost Sir Massingberd_ says: "This holiday-making and mixture of high and low here, are themselves enough to make Sir Massingberd turn in his grave."
From _The Dictionary of Clichés_ by James Rogers
Jefferson might turn in his grave if he knew of such an attempt. (James Bryce, _The American Commonwealth_, 1888)