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.
  2. Someone who is soon to die.
  3. Someone who is about to face an unavoidable loss (though the person may not realize it). When used in this way it is a metaphor comparing this loss to dying.

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