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  • Annelisa MacBean

Speaking of Death

The reality of death . . . the fact that we are mortal and are aware that this human experience is a limited engagement . . . is apparently at the core of many if not most avoidant behaviors and addictions. The topic and/or discussion of death generally makes us feel more uncomfortable than we are able to consciously recognize. To buffer ourselves from the feelings of anxiety we harbor unconsciously about what we know is true, we resort to euphemisms to indirectly reference death. Below is a list of common euphemisms that refer to the reality of “the human condition”, i.e. dead, death or dying.

  • Angels carried Him/Her away

  • Asleep

  • At room temperature

  • Awakened to eternal life

  • Before his/her time

  • Bereft of life

  • (The) Big Sleep

  • Bit the dust

  • Bite the big one

  • Bought a one-way ticket

  • Bought the farm (the “farm” might refer to a cemetery plot)

  • Breathed his/her last

  • Called to Christ/Our Lord

  • Cashed in (or “out”)

  • Cashed in his/her chips

  • Ceased to be

  • Checked into the Horizontal Hilton

  • Checked into the Motel Deep 6

  • Checked out

  • Climbed the stairway to heaven

  • Croaked

  • Crossed over

  • Crossed the Great Divide

  • (A) Debt we all must pay

  • Deceased

  • Deep Six

  • Defunct

  • Departed

  • Destroyed (generally used with pets)

  • Dirt nap

  • D.O.A. (acronym for “dead on arrival”)

  • Do not pass Go; Do not collect $200 (Monopoly anyone?)

  • Entered eternal rest

  • Entered the Pearly Gates

  • Entered the Sweet Hereafter

  • Expired

  • Faded away

  • Feeding the worms (or “became worm food”)

  • Flatlined

  • Fragged (this term is popular with video-gamers)

  • Gave up the ghost

  • Got his/her just reward

  • Got his/her wings

  • (The) Great Leveler

  • Hamlet sleep

  • His/Her number’s up

  • (The) Human condition

  • Immortality-challenged

  • Is in a better place

  • Is kaput

  • Is no more

  • Joined his/her ancestors

  • Journey’s end

  • Kicked the bucket

  • Kicked the can

  • Kicked the oxygen habit

  • Knocked on heaven’s door

  • Laid down his/her life

  • Late (as in “the late Mr. Jones”)

  • Launched into eternity

  • Leave/left this life

  • Left the building (often preceded by “Elvis has…”)

  • Liquidated

  • Living-challenged

  • Lost his/her life

  • Met an untimely end

  • Met his/her maker

  • No longer counted in the census

  • Not going to shop at Walmart anymore

  • Out of business

  • Passed (probably the most common euphemism in use today)

  • Passed away

  • Passed the point of no return

  • Pass on

  • Pay/paid the piper

  • Pegged out (likely borrowed from the game of cribbage)

  • Perished

  • Playing a harp

  • Pushing up daisies

  • Relinquished his/her life

  • Resting

  • Resting in peace

  • Rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible (from the classic Monty Python sketch, “Dead Parrot”)

  • Shuffled off the mortal coil (uttered most famously by Shakespeare’s Hamlet)

  • Six feet under (the traditional depth at which a body is buried)

  • Sleeps

  • Sleep with the fishes

  • Slipped away

  • Substantive negative outcome

  • Succumbed

  • Surrendered his/her life

  • Snuffed out

  • Terminated

  • Toes up

  • Took a permanent vacation

  • Turn to dust

  • Walked the plank

  • Was called home

  • Went the way of all flesh

  • Went to be with the Lord

  • Went to Davy Jones’ Locker

  • Went to the Happy Hunting Grounds



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