17 July 2009 Leave a comment
Having used the term ‘popped my clogs’ in a Tweet recently, it made me think about the amazing range of euphemisms there are for death and dying. So it’s given me an excuse to start making lists.
It seems that people have an aversion to using words like ‘death’ or ‘dying’ either in conversation or in written communication. Why is that? Does it make us think too honestly about our own mortality?
I would prefer to be dead later, rather than sooner, but whenever death comes it is inevitable.
What’s that quotation by Benjamin Franklin? “Of two things you can be certain; death and taxes”. There is no escape from death. Some people can cheat their way out of taxes, but no one, with or without faith, or with a cryonics plan, can avoid death.
I suppose that’s the reason behind the euphemisms; you can’t evade death, but you can avoid talking about it. Postpone acceptance of the inescapable.
Anyway, back to the list I was proposing to draw up:
Bitten the dust
Bought the farm
Breathed one’s last
Cashed in their chips
Fallen off their perch
Given up the ghost
Kicked the bucket
Left for the rats
Met their maker
Permanently out of print
Pining for the fjords (Monty Python!)
Popped their clogs
Pushing up daisies
Put out of their misery
Seeing the reaper
Shuffled off this mortal coil
Six feet under
Sleeping the big sleep
Turned their toes up
TWEPed (‘terminated with extreme prejudice’; probably more of a youthemism)
That’s about the best I can do; I wonder how they compare to euphemisms for death in other languages? They must be as common; use of the euphemism seems to be a very human inclination.
It’s no good; I’m going to have to do a quick Google. Here you go, some from China:
Topple or overturn the chariot
Ride the crane and return to the West
Breathe ones last
Cut or sever breath
Throw or hurl oneself into a well
Right, I’m going off-line now, but I’m dead hopeful of returning to bring back to life another list.