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3 Mar. What does the English expression “to kick the bucket” mean?

This English idiom is fairly commonly used particularly in spoken language. It is used as a metaphor although the origins of the expression relate literally to the “kicking of a bucket.”


The expression is used to mean that someone has died. It should only be used in informal situations as it is considered as slang.


There is no consensus on the origin of this expression although one suggestion is that it dates back to the times when executions were commonplace and hangings were a frequently used way of carrying these out; thus to kick the bucket meant to condemn that person to death. The first recorded usage of this expression comes from The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue of 1785 which defines the expression as “to die.” Another theory is that it derives from the fact that the “bucket” refers to the beam from which pigs hang and are slaughtered. This usage of the expression can be found in William Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part II which reads “swifter than he that gibbets on the Brewers Bucket.”


An example of the usage of this expression can be found in a quote by Dame Maggie Smith “Listen, I must be 110 by now. Granny is going to kick the bucket at some point.”

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