dead man walking

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A phrase traditionally used in U.S. prisons to announce a condemned prisoner being walked to the place of execution.[1] Its use has expanded as a euphemism for anyone facing an impending and unavoidable loss.


dead man walking (plural dead men walking)

  1. A condemned prisoner walking to a death chamber or other place of execution.
    • 1996, Stephen King, The Green Mile:
      It was Percy Wetmore who ushered Coffey onto the block, with the supposedly traditional cry of “Dead man walking! Dead man walking here!”
  2. Someone who is soon to die.
  3. (figuratively) Someone who is about to face an unavoidable loss (though the person may not realize it).

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