We all know when someone has “kicked the bucket” they are dead, but what does kicking a bucket have anything to do with death? Possibly someone stumbled on a bucket on their way down the stairs and they ended in a bad way. This brings to mind a slapstick comedy scene which contradicts the macabre saying. Let’s solve the mystery.
The first use of “kick the bucket “ can be found in Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue in 1785 where it states:”To kick the bucket, to die.”
Some theorize that kicking the bucket refers to the way hanging victims stood on a bucket that was kicked away so they could swing freely and die. Similarly, animals were hung by a wooden frame (in the old days referred to as a bucket) by their feet after slaughter, kick and spasm as they died, and literally kick the bucket.
Either way, it’s a dark saying that lingers on and the meaning has not changed much through the centuries.