This phrase was totally new to me until I recently read it in a novel set in 1820. It had originated in the Royal Navy and British Army somewhat earlier, and meant that a man would have no need of a spoon at mess after he was dead. In the book I read, the phrase was used by a servant to say that her mistress had died.
In German, the person who is deceased has passed along his spoon, and in Afrikaans, he’s jabbed his spoon into the ceiling. These expressions reflect the idea that eating is an essential part of life. Which it most definitely is! And enjoyable, too.
Many lists of euphemisms for dying exist. I’ve gone through several and, having a rather macabre sense of humor, picked out the ones that appeal to me:
Bite the dust
Brown bread — cockney slang for dead
Cash in one’s chips
Count worms — or ‘food for worms’ but I’d prefer counting them
Curtains — having taken the final bow
Wear wooden pajamas — a Portuguese expression
Fall off one’s perch — one of the least gruesome descriptions
Go out with one’s boots on — I’ll have my head down on my keyboard
Kick the bucket — One theory says this one comes from a method of suicide in the Middle Ages in which I would stand on a bucket with a noose tied around my neck. Once I kick the bucket, I’d be hanged.
Permanently out of print — my favorite, for obvious reasons!
I’ll be back with more later. Um, before I peg out.