kick the bucket
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There are many theories as to where this idiom comes from, but the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) suggests the following:
- A person standing on a pail or bucket with their head in a slip noose would kick the bucket so as to commit suicide. The OED, however, says that this is mainly speculative;
- An archaic use of bucket was a beam from which a pig is hung by its feet prior to being slaughtered, and to kick the bucket originally signified the pig's death throes. The OED finds this a more plausible theory.
Another theory is given by Roman Catholic Bishop Abbot Horne.
- (idiomatic, euphemistic, colloquial, humorous) To die.
- Synonyms: bite the dust, buy the farm; see also Thesaurus:die
- The old horse finally kicked the bucket.
- 2015 April 22, Sam Jordison, quoting Jan Morris, “Jan Morris talks about Venice”, in The Guardian:
- My posthumous book Allegorizings, which will go to press in London and New York the minute I kick the bucket, is loosely governed by my growing conviction that almost nothing in life is only what it seems. It contains nothing revelatory at all.
- (idiomatic, colloquial, of a machine) To break down such that it cannot be repaired.
- I think my sewing machine has kicked the bucket.
to break down beyond repair
- Gary Martin (1997–), “Kick the bucket”, in The Phrase Finder.
- Michael Quinion (1996–2022), “Kick the bucket”, in World Wide Words.
- ^ Abbot Horne (1949) Relics of Popery, Catholic Truth Society London, page 6:
- After death, when a body had been laid out, […] the holy-water bucket was brought from the church and put at the feet of the corpse. When friends came to pray […] they would sprinkle the body with holy water […] it is easy to see how such a saying as "kicking the bucket" came about. Many other explanations of this saying have been given by persons who are unacquainted with Catholic custom