terminate with extreme prejudice
1960s, US military intelligence and CIA, used publicly in 1969, in news coverage of Green Beret Case, further popularized in 1979 movie Apocalypse Now. Play on the term “terminate with prejudice” when an employee’s employment is terminated, meaning “will not rehire employee to same position in future” (i.e., prejudiced against rehiring), hence “terminate definitively, i.e., kill”.
- (euphemistic, US) To murder; to assassinate.
- The government ordered the spies to be terminated with extreme prejudice: they did not want them to expose what they knew in a public trial.
- 1969, Terence Smith, “Details of Green Beret Case Are Reported in Saigon”, The New York Times, August 14, 1969:
- ...suggested that he either be isolated or ‘terminated with extreme prejudice.’ This term is said to be an intelligence euphemism for execution.
- 1979, Apocalypse Now
- Colonel Lucas: ... When you find the Colonel, infiltrate his team by whatever means available and terminate the Colonel's command.
- Willard: Terminate the Colonel?
- Civilian: Terminate with extreme prejudice.