Kicking the Bucket and Buying the Farm

I recently saw an article citing the origins of some of the most common phrases we all use. It got me wondering about the origins of some of the euphemisms we use surrounding death. Although a little gruesome one could argue they aren’t as graphic as most nursery rhymes. I found several phrases at and and picked two to highlight.

The phrase “kick the bucket” can be traced back to 1785 in reference to dying. The connection may have been in relation to hangings when the bucket that the victim (or criminal) was standing on was kicked out from beneath them. In addition, the wooden frame used to hang animals in England as early as the 1500’s was also called a bucket. It was not unusual for an animal to kick the bucket during slaughter.

The phrase “bought the farm” may have numerous origins as well. A 20th century phrase, it refers mostly to people who die in an accident or military action. In reference to a military plane crashing, the term bought the farm was coined as the owner of the farm could sue the government for compensation, usually enough to pay off the mortgage. Thus, the pilot bought the farm with his life being paid as the price. It was also used by servicemen killed in action whose family received a payout from insurance, again, usually enough to pay off the farm, or the mortgage.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Alex Trebek won’t be asking these questions on Jeopardy anytime soon, but it’s still fun to know.

National Healthcare Decisions Day

Do you have your advanced directives in place?

Do you know what an advanced directive is?

April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day and it refers to a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. In other words, what type of medical intervention do you want at the end of life, and who do you want making those decisions on your behalf?

According toThe Pew Research Center, January 2006.:
  • 42% of Americans have had a friend or relative suffer from a terminal illness or coma in the last five years and for a majority of these people and 23% of the general public, the issue of withholding life sustaining treatment came up.
  • An overwhelming majority of the public supports laws that give patients the right to decide whether they want to be kept alive through medical treatment.
  • By more than eight-to-one (84%-10%), the public approves of laws that let terminally ill patients make decisions about whether to be kept alive through medical treatment.
  • One of the most striking changes between 1990 and 2005 is the growth in the number of people who say they have a living will – up 17 points, from 12% in 1990 to 29% now.

See the article here.

Already have your advanced directives? This is a good time to review your wishes with your healthcare power of attorney, especially if your wishes have changed. Need to get your advance directives? Visit and click on “5 Wishes.”


Die Hard Soccer Fans

What separates a soccer fan from a die-hard soccer fan? A grave location. The German fans of the Bundesliga Club in Hamburg, Germany can be buried within ear shot of the stadium they loved. With room for up to 500 graves, they are arranged in a semi-circle on three ascending terraces to resemble a stadium. How did they come up with this idea? Why, at the request of the fans. They kept inquiring about having their cremated remains scattered in the stadium after death, and even asking if they could be buried in caskets on the field behind the goals. And what does the entrance look like? It’s a concrete replica of a soccer goal, of course.

Here’s the 5 minute video of the story:

Note that the German funeral home displays caskets in their front window. I’ve never heard of window shopping for a casket before!