kick the bucket
There are many theories as to where this idiom comes from, but the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) discusses the following:
- A person standing on a pail or bucket with their head in a slip noose would kick the bucket so as to commit suicide. The OED, however, says this is mainly speculative;
- The OED describes as more plausible the archaic use of "bucket" as a beam from which a pig is hung by its feet prior to being slaughtered. To kick the bucket, then, originally signified the pig's death throes.
Another explanation is given by a Roman Catholic Bishop, The Right Reverend Abbot Horne, F.S.A. He records on page 6 of his booklet "Relics of Popery" Catholic Truth Society London, 1949, the following:
After death, when a body had been laid out, […] and […] the holy-water bucket was brought from the church and put at the feet of the corpse. When friend came to pray […] they would sprinkle the body with holy water […] it is easy to see how such a saying as "kicking the bucket" came about. Many other explanations of this saying have been given by persons who are unacquainted with Catholic custom
- (idiomatic, euphemistic, colloquial, humorous) To die.
- The old horse finally kicked the bucket.
- (idiomatic, colloquial) Of a machine, to break down such that it cannot be repaired.
- I think my sewing machine has kicked the bucket.