pushing up daisies
pushing up daisies
- to be dead and buried.
- to be deceased and forgotten.
This idiom is used to refer to someone who is dead and buried. This phrase alleges that the person being discussed is buried, and daisies are growing over them. Like most idioms, pushing up daisies isn’t an idiom whose meaning can be understood without content. It’s only after hearing it being used in a sentence that you can grasp its meaning.
It’s also worth mentioning that the meaning of pushing up daisies is perceived as “humorous” and shouldn’t be used in formal communication.
- I’ll be pushing up daisies by the time she replies to my proposal.
- Henry’s grandpa was pushing up daisies before he returned from Australia.
The phrase may have originated from the daisy’s association with graves and the poetic imagery of dead bodies lying beneath the ground, slowly decomposing and becoming part of the earth, turning into new life as beautiful flowers.
A variant of the phrase appeared in 1821. John Keats, a young poet of the Romantic period, whispered just before his death to Joseph Severn, a close friend who accompanied the poet on his last voyage from London to Rome, and these last words became famous. Keats died on February 23, 1821, due to Tuberculosis. He said:
“I can feel the cold earth upon me – the daisies growing over me – O for this quiet – it will be my first.”
The first appearance of the idiom (in its exact form) “pushing up daisies” was in 1917 in a poem titled ‘A Terre‘ by Wilfred Owen. Towards the end of the stanza, Wilfred narrates that:
The dullest Tommy hugs that fancy now.
“Pushing up daisies,” is their creed, you know.
Read the full poem
If you look more into this particular stanza, death is the main theme, which gives more weight to the accepted meaning of this idiom.
Apart from Wilfred’s poem, there are other theories about who coined this phrase. Some allege that it was commonly used during World War I. For instance, when you read Lieutenant W. Roy’s letter in 1915, he talks about pushing up daisies and enriching the soil. He wrote:
“After a time, it’s got to come that you either push up the daisies and enrich the soil a bit, or else you lie still and hold up a few bedclothes for a space of time, depending on the circumstances.”
- This idiom is used to describe the dead in a jocular manner. Therefore, some find it uncomfortable.
- Pushing up daisies is informal slang and shouldn’t be used by people who aren’t close to the deceased.
- It’s both an idiom and a metaphor because it’s symbolic.
- It has a couple of variations, like “feeding the daisies” or “pushing up poppies.”
Even though pushing up daisies is a strange way of describing the dead and buried, it introduces a sense of humor to a rather serious discussion.