kick the bucket

kick the bucket


  • to die


  1. Have you heard? The old man down the street has kicked the bucket.
  2. All the fish in my aquarium kicked the bucket when we went on a vacation.
  3. The old dog finally kicked the bucket when the winter got too harsh for him.
  4. I have decided to donate my organs when I kick the bucket.
  5. The old lady had lead a solitary life, but when she kicked the bucket, the whole neighbourhood came to her funeral.

The phrase first appeared in print in the “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue” in 1785. Its origin is unclear, though there are several theories. One common theory is of hanging, when a person standing on a bucket with a noose over the head kicks the bucket and hence, dies. There is no evidence to support this claim, and it appears rather implausible. Another, more plausible, theory refers to the archaic meaning of the word bucket, which used to mean beam in 16th century England. A bucket, or beam, was used to hang animals by the feet for slaughter, and they would kick it while dying. A third theory refers to the Catholic practice of placing the holy water bucket at the feet of a person who has died, so that visitors could sprinkle the holy water on the body.

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