List of expressions related to death

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  • This is a list of words and phrases related to death in alphabetical order. While some of them are slang, others euphemize the unpleasantness of the subject, or are used in formal contexts. Some of the phrases may carry the meaning of 'kill', or simply contain words related to death. Most of them are idioms.
Expression Definition Context Remarks
Assume room temperature To die Euphemistic slang Used by talk radio host Rush Limbaugh on his program, generally when a dictator or an avowed enemy of the United States has died.
At peace[1] Dead Euphemistic
At rest[1] Dead Polite
Belly up[1] Dead Informal The orientation of fish when dead
Beyond the grave[1] After death Neutral In reference to communication with the dead
Beyond the veil[2] The mysterious place after death Neutral Originally used to refer to the 'veil' that hides the innermost sanctuary of the Temple in Jerusalem. Sometimes refers to just a mysterious place.
Bite the dust[2] To die or be killed Informal Also means 'failed'
Bite the big one[2] To die Informal North American.
Born asleep Stillbirth Neutral
Breathe one's last[1] To die Literary
Brown bread[3] Dead Slang Cockney rhyming slang for 'dead'.
Bought the farm[2] Died Slang Also, shortened to 'bought it'
Bucket list List of things to do before dying Popular culture derivation Derived from the older phrase "kick the bucket"; popularized by the 2007 film The Bucket List
Cark-it[4] To die Informal, another version of 'croaked it'; common in UK, Ireland, Australia & New Zealand The guy was running, had a heart attack and carked it.
Cash in one's chips[2] To die Informal, euphemistic[5] Redemption for cash of gambling counters at the end of a game
Candyman Supernatural suicide TV/Movie Say 'Candyman' 5 times while looking in a mirror, and the Candyman appears and kills you with his hooked right hand.
Charon Ferryman of Hades Neutral Crosses the rivers Styx and Acheron which divide the world of the living from the world of the dead
Come to a sticky end[1] To die in a way that is considered unpleasant Humorous British. Also 'to meet a sticky end'.
Counting worms[5] Dead Euphemistic
Croak[6] To die Slang
Crossed the Jordan Died Biblical/Revivalist The deceased has entered the Promised Land (i.e. Heaven)
Curtains Death Theatrical The final curtain at a dramatic performance
Dead as a dodo[2] Dead Informal The 'dodo', flightless bird from the island of Mauritius hunted to extinction
Dead as a doornail[1] Obviously dead Informal Charles Dickens used this phrase at the beginning of A Christmas Carol.
Death by Misadventure Avoidable death Formal/Legal Death resulting from risk-taking
Decapitation The act of killing by removing a person's head, usually with an axe or other bladed instrument A much-favoured method of execution used around the world. Notable examples include the French Revolution via guillotine, and the Tudor times using an axe.
Deleted Murdered Literary
Defenestration The act of killing by throwing a person out of a window
Departed[1] To die Neutral
Destroyed To die Neutral Usually refers to the euthanization of an animal
Die with one's boots on To die while able, or during activity, as opposed to in infirmity or while asleep. Euphemistic Old West usage: To die in a gunfight, as with the film They Died with Their Boots On. Also connotes dying in combat.

British; cf. Iron Maiden's Die With Your Boots On.

Didn't make it Killed in action (see below) Euphemistic
Done for[1] About to die Neutral
Drop dead[1] Die suddenly Neutral also slang aggressive dismissal
Dropping like flies[7] Dying in droves Simile also falling ill in numbers
Drop the Body Died Euphemistic Used by new-age spiritually-minded people instead of the term, "died," suggesting that, while the person's body died, his or her spirit lives on
Erased Murdered Literary
Euthanasia Assisted suicide Formal
Expire Natural end Neutral
Exterminate Kill Directive Exclaimed by Daleks (from Doctor Who) when ordered to kill
Extinct When a species as a whole ceases to exist Formal
Fading away[1] To be weakening and close to death Neutral Also to be 'fading fast'
Fall off one's perch[8] To die Informal
Food for worms[2] Someone who is dead Slang Also 'worm food'
Fratricide Murder among siblings Formal
Free one's horses To die Neutral
Genocide To completely exterminate all of a kind Formal
Give up the ghost[2] To die Neutral The soul leaving the body
Glue factory To die Neutral Usually refers to the death of a horse
Gone to a better place[9] To die Euphemistic Heaven
Go Commit Die[10] To commit suicide Cultural Usually encountered on korean free to play online games.
Go over the Big Ridge[11] To die Unknown
Go bung[2] To die Informal Australian. Also means 'to fail' or 'to go bankrupt'.
Go for a Burton To die / break irreparably Informal British. From WWII (Gone for a Burton).
Go to Davy Jones's locker[2] To drown or otherwise die at sea Euphemistic Peregrine Pickle describes Davy Jones as 'the fiend that presides over all the evil sprits of the deep'.
Go to the big [place] in the sky To die and go to heaven Informal A place in the afterlife paralleling the deceased's life, such as "Big ranch in the sky".[12]
Go home in a box[13] To be shipped to one's birthplace, dead Slang, euphemistic[5]
Go out with one's boots on/with a bang/in style To die while doing something enjoyed Informal
Go to, or head for, the last roundup[11] To die Euphemistic Associated with dying cowboys, along with "Going to that big ranch in the sky."
Go to one's reward[2] To die Euphemistic Final reckoning, just deserts after death
Go to one's watery grave[1] To die of drowning Literary
Go to a Texas cakewalk[11] To be hanged Unknown
Go the way of all flesh[2] To die Neutral
Go west[2] To be killed or lost Informal Refers to the sun setting at the west.
The Grim Reaper[2] Personification of death Cultural A skeleton with a scythe, often in a cloak
Hand in one's dinner pail[2] To die Informal No longer required at workmen's canteen
Happy hunting ground Dead Informal Used to describe the afterlife according to Native Americans
Hara-kiri (Ritual) suicide by disembowelment Japanese See Seppuku. Often misspelt as Hari-kari.
Have one foot in the grave[2] To be close to death because of illness or age Informal, sometimes humorous
History Dead Informal Usually interpreted as "to be history."
Hop on the last rattler[5] To die Euphemistic "Rattler" is a slang expression for a freight train.
Hop the twig[2] To die Informal Also 'to hop the stick'. Pagan belief that to jump a stick on the ground leads to the Afterworld.
In Abraham's bosom[2] In heaven Neutral From the Holy Bible, Luke 16:22.
Join the choir invisible[14] To die Neutral From an 1867 poem by George Eliot
Join the great majority[2] To die Euphemistic First used by Edward Young, but the phrase 'the majority' is extremely old.
Justifiable Homicide Homicide Formal Murder of lesser culpability attracting a lighter penalty
Kick the bucket[2] To die Informal In suicidal hanging.[15] Also 'kick off' (American).[1]
Kick the calendar To die Slang, informal Polish saying. 'Calendar' implies somebody's time of death (kicking at particular moment of time)
Killed In Action (KIA) Death of military personnel due to enemy action Military language, official and informal use
King of Terrors[2] Personification of death Neutral Also refers to death itself
Kiss one's arse goodbye Prepare to die Slang
Live on a farm (upstate) To die Euphemism Usually referring to the death of a pet, especially if the owners are parents with children, i.e. "The dog went to live on a farm."
Lose one's life[1] To die in an accident or violent event Neutral
Make the ultimate sacrifice[1] To die while fighting for a cause Formal Also 'make the supreme sacrifice'
Matricide Mother murdered Formal
Meet one's maker[2] To die Euphemistic According to Christian belief, soul meets God for final judgment
Murder Death Kill (MDK) Homicide TV/Movie From 1993 film Demolition Man
Night The state of death Euphemism From the poem by Dylan Thomas, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night."
Not long for this world[1] Will die soon; have little time left to live Old-fashioned
Not with us anymore Dead Euphemistic
Off on a boat[5] To die Euphemistic Viking expression, in fashion nowadays
Off the hooks[2] Dead Informal British. Not to be confused with 'off the hook' (no longer in trouble).
On one's deathbed[1] Dying Neutral
On one's last legs[2] About to die Informal
One's hour has come[1] About to die Literary
One's number is up[1] One is going to die Slang
Pass away[1] To die Euphemism; Polite Also 'to pass on'
Pass in one's alley[2] To die Informal Australian
Patricide Murders father Formal
Pay the ultimate price[1] To die for a cause or principle Neutral Similar to "To make the ultimate sacrifice"
Peg out[1] To die Slang British. Also means 'to stop working'
Perish Synonym for death (neutral)
Pop one's clogs[2] To die Humorous,[1] Informal[2] British. "Pop" is English slang for "pawn." A 19th century working man might tell his family to take his clothes to the pawn shop to pay for his funeral, with his clogs among the most valuable items.
Promoted to Glory Death of a Salvationist Formal Salvation Army terminology.
Push up daisies[2] To have died and be under the ground Humorous,[1] Euphemistic[5] Early 20th century. Also 'under the daisies' and 'turn one's toes up to the daisies', which date back to the mid-19th century. See 'to turn up one's toes' below.
Put down/put to sleep To be euthanised Euphemism Euthanasia of an animal
Put one to the sword To kill someone Literary
Rainbow Bridge Dead Euphemism Usually referring to the death of a pet, i.e. "Crossing the Rainbow Bridge."
Ride the pale horse[5] To die Euphemistic In the Biblical passage Revelation 6:8, a pale horse is ridden by Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The expression "behold a pale horse" has been used as the title of a 1964 film by Fred Zinnemann and a 1991 book by ufologist William Milton Cooper.
Send one to Eternity or to the Promised Land To kill someone Literary
Go/send to Belize To die/to kill somebody Euphemism From Season 5 of the television series Breaking Bad
Send (or go) to the farm To die Euphemism Usually referring to the death of a pet, especially if the owners are parents of young children i.e. "The dog was sent to a farm."
Shade The state of death Euphemism From the poem, "Invictus," by William Ernest Henley: "Beyond this place of wrath and tears, Looms but the horror of the shade."
Shuffle off this mortal coil[1] To die Humorous, Literary[2] see Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Six feet under[2] Dead Informal Six feet is the traditional depth of a grave
Sleeping with the fishes Murdered, then disposed of in water. Slang Popularized by The Godfather
Snuffed out Murdered Literary As in extinguishing a candle, or simply "snuff it"
Step off To die Informal, euphemistic Character Ron Birdwell in the movie The Late Show (1977): "I'm always sorry to hear any of God's creatures stepping off."
Struck down[1] To be killed by an illness Neutral Usually passive
Suicide To take one's own life Formal
Sunset Dead Formal
Swim with concrete shoes Gangster murder Slang
Take a dirt nap[16] To die and be buried Slang
Take a last bow[5] To die Slang
Take the last train to glory.[2] To die Euphemism Uplifting Christian take on destination heaven
Tango Uniform[citation needed] Dead, irreversibly broken Military slang This is "T.U." in the ICAO spelling alphabet, an abbreviation for Tits Up (aeroplane crashed)
Terminate; especially, Terminate with Extreme Prejudice To kill; especially when carrying out an assassination as part of a covert operation. Euphemism; Military slang Originated during the Vietnam War; later popularized by the film Apocalypse Now
Top yourself Commit suicide Slang
Turn up one's toes[2] To die Slang An alternative of 'turn one's toes up to the daisies' (See 'push up daisies' above.)
Up and die Unexpected death, leaving loose ends Euphemistic
Wearing a pine overcoat (i.e. a wooden coffin)[citation needed] Dead Slang Idiom used by American gangsters of the early 20th century.
Wiped out...way up.. Dead, usually if multiple individuals die Neutral
To join the whisperers To die Euphemism From the television series Lost: the Whispers were voices of those who died, yet were unable to move on and therefore remained on the island as whispers

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af Oxford Dictionary of Idioms
  3. ^ "Cockney Rhyming Slang". 
  4. ^ http://www.yourdictionary.com/cark-it
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Terry Deary, Horrible Histories: Wicked Words p. 52-53
  6. ^ "The Free Dictionary: Croak". The Free Dictionary. 
  7. ^ "The Free Dictionary: Drop like flies". The Free Dictionary. 
  8. ^ Michael McCarthy, Felicity O'Dell. English Idioms in Use. In Use. Cambridge University Press. p. 10. ISBN 0-521-78957-5. 
  9. ^ "Dead People Go To A Better Place". doorofhope.com. Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. 
  10. ^ "Go Commit Die | IRL Meme on me.me". me.me. Retrieved 2018-05-04. 
  11. ^ a b c "How did the expression kick the bucket come about when someone dies?". EducationAsk.com. 
  12. ^ Associated Press (Oct 10, 2006). "Bevo XIII, longest-tenured Longhorns mascot, dies". ESPN. 
  13. ^ "The Free Dictionary: Go home in a box". The Free Dictionary. 
  14. ^ http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/O_May_I_Join_the_Choir_Invisible
  15. ^ Terry Deary, Horrible Histories: Wicked Words, p. 56
  16. ^ "The Free Dictionary: Take a Dirt Nap". The Free Dictionary.