I saw the phrase “Call for sb’s head on a plate” in the following sentence of The New Yorker magazine’s article (January 20) titled “Newt and His Wives,” reporting that Gingrich was in a furor when asked by the moderator, John King, about his second and third wives during the presidential debate in South Carolina in January 19th night.
“I am frankly astounded that Gingrich hasn’t been asked more about his various affairs and divorces—they are legitimate subjects for inquiry when you consider a) how merciless and, obviously, hypocritical he was when, as Speaker of the House, he was calling for Clinton’s head on a plate during Monicagate; and b) how sanctimonious he continues to be on the campaign trail, ranting about the encroachment of secular values into American life.”
I can easily guess that ‘call for sb’s head on a plate’ means “call for sb’s resignation’ here. But I can’t find the heading of either “call for a head on a plate,” or “a head on a plate” in any of the Oxford, Cambridge, or Merriam-Webster online dictionaries.
On the other hand, GoogleNGram registers “head on a plate,” and it indicates that the phrase existed from around mid 1800, but the usage started to be prominent since circ 1930.
Is “call for sb’s head on a plate,” which sounds pretty raw to me, a popular phrase? I wonder if it’s associated with the biblical episode of Salome, Herod’s daughter who demanded the head of John the Baptist after dancing in front of her father in a feast. What is the origin of this phrase?