There are countless sayings about death, but we've picked our 29 favorites for this article on phrases and metaphors related to death. Some great metaphors for death are:
- He sleeps with the fish
- bitten the dust
- Gone gently into the night
- Fue a farm in the back country
We also have many readers who are learning English as a Second Language (ESL) and would love to learn about these sayings to improve their English skills. We hope you enjoy these phrases too!
See also:symbolism of death
Expressions and metaphors of death.
1. He kicked the bucket
The term "knocked out" is a morbid term! I didn't know what that meant until I researched this article. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it comes from the idea of a person standing on a bucket while being hanged. Instead of waiting for the executioner to kill them, they kicked the bucket under them, thus denying the executioner's pleasure. How disgusting!
We can look at this as a metaphor because today the person who dies is not literally knocking over the bucket. Rather, it is a term intended to be interpreted metaphorically rather than literally.
2. Fell off the hanger
This metaphor makes us think of a bird perched on its perch. If the bird dies, it will lose its balance and fall to the ground! But nowadays we apply that term to anyone or anything that dies in general, not just birds. So when we say a person "fell out of position," they clearly didn't literally fall out of position. Thus, this term is also a metaphor for death.
3. Sleep with fish
This term may have come from seafarers. If we threw a body overboard, it would end up in the ocean among the fish. The additional use of the term "asleep" adds to this sense of death - when someone is asleep they are unconscious and may appear dead! Of course, today we can use this term for anyone who is dead, even if their body was not thrown into the sea. Therefore, we can say that this term has become a metaphor and has moved away from its original literal terminology.
You can even expand on this metaphor by using the old seafaring expression "Davy Jones' Locker," meaning "the bottom of the ocean." So you could say, "He sleeps with the fish in Davy Jones' closet."
4. Push daisies
This metaphor refers to the fact that burial turns your body into fuel for plant growth. The buried body is now the reason daisies grow on his grave. According to worldhistories.net, the term was little used in the 19th century but gained popularity among British forces during World War I. Alternatives are "push daisy roots" and "stand under daisies".
5. Six feet underground
Often this is literal and not metaphoric, especially if the person has been buried. But when a person has been cremated, this expression is still used as the ubiquitous euphemism for death, to make it less harsh or morbid. That's why we included it because we think it's a relevant saying worth investigating when it comes to death, and it can be used in place of other metaphorical expressions about death.
We say someone is six feet deep because the standard depth of a grave is two feet.
6. Count worms
This is also self-explanatory. We say someone counts worms because when they're buried, they're underground among the worms. It's somewhat akin to the saying that we "count sheep" when we sleep.
Of course, the person isn't literally counting worms, they're dead! But if you could imagine being underground with absolutely nothing to do, you might get so bored you start counting how many worms come through each day.
7. Give up the ghost
This term is often used to refer to a machine that has failed. For example, if your car stops, you can say that the car gave up. Therefore, when using the term, we recommend that you use it for a machine rather than a person, as it is more intertextually relevant today.
But the origin of the term certainly lies in the explanation that when a person dies, their spirit (or "spirit") leaves them and goes to heaven. In fact, the phrase is even used in the King James Bible when referring to the death of Jesus.Markus 15:37It says, "And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed his last breath." Other versions of Mark 15:37 say, "Jesus uttered a great cry and breathed his last."
This is an expression we could use to explain someone dying gently in their sleep, as in "just slipping quietly into the night." It refers to someone who dies peacefully and without fanfare. Another occasion where you can use this term is when someone dies without saying goodbye to others. Note that this term can also be used in other contexts, e.g. B. when someone leaves a party without saying goodbye.
Other symbolism of death:
- 9 symbols of death
- Animals symbolizing death
- Symbolism of dead flowers
- skull symbolism
- Black candle symbolism
- tote Baumsymbologie
9. Rest In Peace
Rest in Peace is one of the most common terms we associate with death. Of course, a dead person doesn't literally rest, they're dead! But to say they are resting means their soul no longer has to deal with earthly concerns. We often write "rest in peace" on a tombstone and wishes for the person going to the afterlife. If they rest in peace, death (and hopefully not hell!) will not torment them.
10. A worm farm started
This one is a bit more fun and fun. FORKS. Cummings used this term in his poem "nobody ever loses“:
when my uncle Sol's coffin was shaking because
someone pressed a button
and started a worm farm)
Of course, this phrase refers to the fact that worms will (eventually) start consuming your body once you're buried; This will provide fertile ground for the worms to live and thrive on.
11. He joined the Great Majority
Edward Young used this term in his poetry, but it is now a very common expression to refer to dead people. In accordance withPopulation Reference Office, about 100 billion people died and there are about 7 billion alive today. So when we die, we join most people who have ever walked the earth in entering the afterlife. This term is often used in humorous contexts.
12. Walk slowly to that good night
Dylan Thomas coined this phrase with his poem "Don't go quietly into this good night“. This poem talks about fighting aging and disease and maintaining love for life. Due to the huge popularity of this poem, we still use this term to talk about people fighting a terminal illness and refusing to give up the fight.
13. Rest your bones
This saying comes from John Donne's poem "Death, don't be proud“:
And soon our best men go with you,
Rest of your bones and deliver of the soul.
When we lower a body to the ground, we "rest" its bones, laying them down for the last time. But the saying "rest your bones" also conjures up an image in the mind of someone with old, aching, and tired bones. They finally "rest" when someone dies and they are relieved of the pain in their body.
14. Retreat from this death spiral
The "death spiral" is a term used to describe life as a daily burden: each day is a repeat of the previous one as we work to eat and survive. If someone "removes" the Death Spiral, they die.
This saying became famous in Shakespeare's plays.Dorfnot famous monologue"to be or not to be“:
sleep, maybe dream; yes, that is the problem
For in this dream of death, what dreams can come
When we break free from this death spiral
You should give us a break. there is respect
That's what makes Calamity live so long
15. Dropped Like Fly (similar)
This saying refers to the death of many people in rapid succession. It brings a vision of flies falling out of nowhere when you spray them with bug spray. We can use this term when people are killed en masse by machine guns, like in World War I. Likewise, it is often used in reference to mass deaths during a pandemic or due to a virus.
16. He found his Maker
To say that someone has met their Creator is to say that they have come to heaven to be judged by HimGood. God is the “Creator” in this saying. When we die, many people believe that we are going to heaven to be with God. In Christianity we will see Saint Peter guarding the gates of heaven. He judges you and your life before he lets you into heaven to be with your Creator. Therefore, we can see meeting your Creator as a figure of speech that refers to being judged for your deeds on earth and receiving your punishment.
17. It was for your reward
To say that someone went to their reward means that someone was a good and honest person and is now being rewarded with eternal life in heaven. However, this can also be said ironically, for example, if someone in life was a criminal, thief or murderer. In this case we're saying they went for their reward, but we're really saying they're finally getting what they deserve: probably an eternity in hell.
18. Beyond the grave
To say someone is beyond the grave is to say they are dead. But it's more commonly used when we're talking about "communication from beyond the grave." It is used by people who believe in speaking to relatives or dead spirits; for example "he speaks to me from beyond."
19. Beyond the Veil
"The Veil" is a term used to refer to the separation between life on earth and the afterlife. We use the phrase "the veil" to refer to the fact that we cannot see the afterlife. It's a bit like a curtain that you can't see. So we all have doubts and wonder what will come after we die. So to say that someone or something is "beyond the veil" is to say that they are in the afterlife where we cannot see them or communicate with them.
20. Oh great am I
There are many expressions that use the term "sleep" (or similes) to refer to death, such as an "eternal sleep," "the long sleep," and "the final resting place." One of these phrases is “the big dream”. This is the longest dream we will ever have because of course it doesn't end! Of course, death is not sleep, but the similarities (we are not conscious, we do not move and we cannot communicate).
21. Bite the dust
To say that someone bit the dust is to say that they died, but we use it in a very specific circumstance. It is mainly used when someone is defeated in a battle or fight. The victor will say that the person who "bites the dust" was defeated by the victor. The term is old, but much more popular today with Queen's cocky ballad, a victory song about being the best at something:
22. Dead as a dodo
The dodo bird is an extinct bird from the island of Mauritius. The last recorded sighting of a living dodo was in 1650, so to say a dodo is dead does mean it is him.definitivedead. You are as dead as an animal that has not been seen for 400 years! There isn't a single living dodo on earth.
23. Dead as a nail
This expression comes from the practice of "preaching the dead." A dead nail involves taking the protruding parts of a nail and bending them with a hammer to press them against the wood. Once a nail has been driven in, it cannot be reused and cannot be pulled out of the wood. Therefore, to say "dead as a nail" means that something is completely dead, it cannot be reused or repaired. For example: "Sorry, your computer is dead as a door."
24. I went to the Inner Farm
This phrase is the term we use to refer to dead pets, but today it's not uncommon for it to be used euphemistically in reference to humans as well. The term is often used when trying to soften a pet's lethal blow to children. Instead of telling a kid their pet died, let's tell them their pet had a better life on a beautiful green farm where they can romp around with their friends. Perhaps we can think metaphorically about the idea of the "Binnenhof" as paradise.
25. He went out with boots
If you die with your boots on, you die while doing something active. Most commonly it is used when someone is killed in war. But we also use the term for someone who dies on the job or attempts a stunt. It is considered positive that these people did not die passively. They died going out and facing life. They died with honor.
This euphemism is one of the most common in everyday English. It's a term used to soften the concept of "someone died". Dying is a gentler, higher class way of saying someone has died. The term "passed over" here refers to one who has "passed over" from life to death. It's not the usual way we use the term "passport," but it's regularly used in connection with death.
27. I went to Judgment Day
Many religious people believe that the day you die you will go to heaven and be judged by God. If God accepts that you have been good in your life, you will be rewarded with eternal life. If you don't, you will be sent to hell. This doomsday idea then became an idiom for death: "Where did he go?" … "Is dead. He has now gone to Judgment Day.
This metaphor refers to the extinguishing of a candle.
When we blow out a candle, we say that we "blew it out." This is the process of depriving the candle of oxygen, causing the flame to go out.
We often think of candles as a metaphor for life: the flame is like our soul. So when someone "went out" or "went out" died, his candle went out.
For more information, see:Black candle symbolism
The term "carked it" is a slang term that refers to someone who is dying. It is used in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. It may be an abbreviation of the term "carcass" (a corpse). So 'cark it' is supposed to be a corpse or a corpse. We will often use this term to refer to someone who died suddenly or dramatically, such as when they had a heart attack. However, we don't typically use the term in reference to someone we love.
Death is a subject that we often deal with. We will all face it one day. No wonder then that there are so many metaphors, idioms and euphemisms on this subject. Some are humorous, others help lift the spirits of the mourners, and some are drawn directly from important cultural texts such as the Bible and the works of Shakespeare.
If you are interested in other scary topics, you can check out our article on the topicVampirsymbolikmimetaphors of life.