Deadly euphemisms

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

Gone off-line

Gone west

Kicked the bucket

Left for the rats

Met their maker

Passed away

Pegged it

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

Tits up


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.