today is a good day to die

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English[edit]

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A c. 1881–1885 photograph of the Oglala Lakota chief Low Dog, who was reported to have first used the phrase “this is a good day to die” in 1881

Etymology[edit]

The phrase is frequently attributed to the Oglala Lakota war leader Crazy Horse (c. 1842 – 1877),[1] though this is inaccurate as the earliest published reference, in the 14 August 1881 edition of the Leavenworth Times, attributes it to the Oglala Lakota chief Low Dog (c. 1846 – 1894).[2]

Pronunciation[edit]

  • Hyphenation: to‧day is a good day to die

Proverb[edit]

today is a good day to die

  1. An expression of willingness and even eagerness to give one's life for one's cause.
  2. One should never live a moment of one's life with any regrets, or tasks left undone.
  3. Klingon locution, often uttered when the odds seem to favor an opponent. It does not, however, represent a defeatist attitude. Quite the contrary, in a society in which warriors are so revered, to die in a battle is a noble aspiration.

References[edit]

  1. ^ See, for example, Kenneth Paul Kramer (1988), “American Indian Attitudes towards Death”, in The Sacred Art of Dying: How World Religions Understand Death, Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, ISBN 978-0-8091-2942-3, page 169: “One of the best known death songs was sung by the Sioux warrior Chief Crazy Horse just before he entered into battle: / Hoka hey! Follow me / Today is a good day to fight / Today is a good day to die.”.
  2. ^ The phrase appeared in an interview with Low Dog which was in a newspaper despatch sent from Fort Yates, North Dakota, USA, on 30 July 1881 and published in the Leavenworth Times two weeks later: see Richard G. Hardorff, editor , quoting Low Dog (2003), “The Low Dog Interview”, in Indian Views of the Custer Fight: A Sourcebook, Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, ISBN 978-0-8061-3690-5, pages 63 and 65: “We retreated until our men got all together, and then we charged upon them. I called to my men, ‘This is a good day to die: follow me.’”.