bucket list

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Sense 1 is from kick the bucket (to die) + list, hence a “list of things to do before you die”. The term was used in 1999 by American and British screenwriter Justin Zackham in his screenplay for the 2007 film The Bucket List.[1][2] Zackham had created his own list called “Justin’s List of Things to Do Before I Kick the Bucket” which he then shortened to “Justin’s Bucket List”. The first item on his list was to have a screenplay produced at a major Hollywood studio. After a time, it occurred to him that the notion of a “bucket list” could itself be fodder for a film, so he wrote a screenplay about two dying men racing to complete their own bucket lists with the time they had left. Articles about the movie are said to be earliest known uses with the current meaning.[3]


  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: buck‧et list


bucket list (plural bucket lists)

  1. (idiomatic) A list of things to accomplish before one's death. [c. 2006]
    • 2006 September 2, Peterson Gonzaga, “Reiner gets animated in 'Everybody's Hero'”, in Herald News[2], West Paterson, NJ, page D4:
      Q: Do you have your own "bucket list"? [Rob Reiner]: You know, I don't. I've gone on with my life always trying to do positive things and make things better and the world better. ... I want to see my kids do well, but that's not a "bucket list"
    • 2009 August 10, Robert Deeter, Bullseye: Journal of a Black Hawk Pilot, Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 102:
      I'm a helicopter pilot, not a writer. Still, it's been a dream of mine to someday write a book. It's ranked near the top on my list of things I want to do someday, my "bucket list," if you will.
    • 2010, Annalisa Daughety, Love is Grand, Uhrichsville, Oh.: Barbour Pub., →ISBN:
      "They told me hiking down into the canyon was on their bucket list." / She nodded. "I hear that all the time. People all over the world have the Grand Canyon on their bucket list." / Jake frowned. "I don't have a bucket list."
    • 2014, Lara Krupika, “How to Use this Book”, in Bucket List Living for Moms: Becoming a More Adventurous Parent, Naperville, Ill.: Wordcrafter Communications, →ISBN:
      The beauty of bucket lists is that just as they represent us and our dreams, like us they also grow and change. You will be surprised once you have begun the bucket list journey at how opportunities spring up around you. New ideas beg to be added to your list. Even the act of completing a bucket list goal can be the source of further exploration.
    Coordinate term: wish list
    1. (by extension) A list of things to accomplish before any certain deadline or in a certain time period.
      winter bucket list
  2. (computer science) A data structure containing buckets used in a hashing algorithm. [c. 1965]
    • 1965, Mary Elizabeth Stevens, Automatic Indexing: A State-of-the-Art Report[3], Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, page 170:
      Using a bucket list structure [...], the program sorts each incoming word serially, constructing a list within each of 256 buckets for good words of a given alphabetic range
    • 1975, Terence W. Pratt, Programming Languages: Design and Implementation[4], Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, page 83:
      In place of direct storage in the block we might substitute pointers to linked bucket lists of the elements having the same hash addresses
  3. A list of tasks arising during a meeting that are put aside to be dealt with later. [c. 1978]
    • 1978, James D. Anderson; Ezra Earl Jones, The Management of Ministry[5], San Francisco: Harper & Row, →ISBN, page 151:
      A "bucket" list is simply a formal procedure for recording items of concern that arise during work on other agenda items
    • 1997, Suzan L. Jackson, The ISO14001 Implementation Guide: Creating an Integrated Management System[6], New York: John Wiley & Sons, page 226:
      As you go through each step during the session, keep a "bucket list" of items that will need followup action
    • 2004, Tom Kendrick, The Project Management Tool Kit[7], New York: American Management Association, page 74:
      Focus on only one issue at a time. Whenever a new issue arises, don't ignore it, but don't allow the meeting to get distracted from the current topic. Always record each new issue on a posted "parking lot" or "bucket list" in the meeting room


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ben Zimmer (29 May 2015), “The Origins of ‘Bucket List’”, in The Wall Street Journal[1], archived from the original on 2016-10-25.
  2. ^ bucket list, n.” under “bucket, n.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2013; “bucket list, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ Paul McFedries (10 November 2010), “bucket list”, in Word Spy, Logophilia Limited, retrieved 4 June 2017.