from cradle to grave

from cradle to grave

Variants

from the cradle to the grave,
cradle-to-grave,
from womb to tomb.

Meaning

  • The phrase is used to refer to something that spans a human lifetime.
  • throughout one’s life.
  • the duration or length of one’s life.
  • It can be used more generally to mean “from start to finish.”
  • The adjectival form, ‘cradle-to-grave,’ is most frequently used in conjunction with government or corporate benefits such as Social Security or health care.

Example in Sentences

  1. He was a difficult man; from the cradle to the grave, he was constantly angry or upset.
  2. The proposed book would examine the life of the famous rock star from cradle to grave.
  3. Hesketh Pearson reported that the novelist, Thomas Harding, once told him, “Fate stalks us with depressing monotony from womb to tomb…” (Pearson, The Whispering Gallery, p. 151).
  4. The health insurance benefits offered by the government will cover you and your children from the cradle to the grave.
  5. Critics say that the cradle-to-grave Social Security system is in dire need of reform, but this is far from the truth.
  6. This health plan provides protection from the cradle to the grave.

Origin

In their book, Free to Choose (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979, p. 93), Milton and Rose Freidman claimed that the phrase “cradle to grave” was coined by Edward Bellamy in his dystopian novel, Looking Backward (New York: Modern Library, 1917, p. 70). However, it was used at least as early as the 18th century. In 1788, Henry Grattan, Esq., delivered a speech in the House of Commons concerning the subject of tithes in which he referred to individuals following “their fellow creature(s) from cradle to grave” (The Speeches of the Right Honourable Henry Grattan, Volume 2). Rev. James McKernan used the phrase “from cradle to grave” in his 1892 poem, “Viewing the Procession.”

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