phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Death of a thousand cuts

Posted by ESC on October 22, 2000

In Reply to: A phrase defination...and origin posted by Patty on October 22, 2000

: I would like the defination/origin of the phrase...Death by a thousand cuts

DEATH OF A THOUSAND CUTS - "A slow death by the torture of many small wounds, none lethal in itself, but fatal in their cumulative effect. This torture was a form of execution in ancient China, reserved for the most heinous crime. The more literal translation from the Chinese is 'one thousand knives and ten thousand pieces,' the scariest possible description, designed to deter criminals. The term is quoted in the 'Baltimore Sun,' August 2, 1994:

But Mr. Alexander said he was troubled that the controversy was a 'newspaper-driven phenomenon' in which Ms. Stansel and Chavis' opponents were using the sexual harassment charge to subject the 46-year-old director to the 'death of a thousand cuts.'." From "Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Allusions" by Elizabeth Webber and Mike Feinsilber (Merriam-Webster, Springfield, Mass., 1999).