that's all she wrote

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Unknown; circa 1940s; thought to be a reference to Dear John letters. Ernest Tubb recorded a song titled That's All She Wrote (sheet music published in 1942), but earlier printed references exist (e.g. The Brownsville Herald, June 1935).


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that’s all she wrote

  1. (idiomatic, US) Indicating an abrupt termination of a project, or of one’s hopes or plans.
    • 1951, Jackie Brenston, “My Real Gone Rocket” (song):
      If you see a long yellow streak of all fine smoke / That’s my rocket pulling out, that’s all she wrote / []
    • 1951, Hank Williams, “Dear John” (song):
      There was a note upon my door... I won’t be back no more / That’s all she wrote, “Dear John”.
    • 1963, Johnny Cash, “Jackson” (song):
      [] Goodbye — that’s all she wrote.
    • 1980, Bruce Springsteen, “The River” (song):
      Then I got Mary pregnant and man that was all she wrote.
      And for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat
    • 1987, Deep Purple, “Black And White” (song):
      Inside information taken down note by note / A silent footstep that’s all she wrote.
    • 1990, Firehouse, “All She Wrote” (song):
      Bye bye, baby, bye-bye, she said in a letter. And that was all she wrote.
    • 2004, Gaither Vocal Band, “I Catch ’Em, God Cleans ’Em” (song):
      He said a prayer, and that was all she wrote.
    • 2004, Michael Graves, A+ Guide to PC Hardware Maintenance & Repair, page 525:
      I get five short beeps when the machine starts to boot, and then that's all she wrote []