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The expression to "kick the bucket", meaning to die, doesn't quite make sense when you stop and try to apply it literally to what it means.

So where does the expression come from? The historical context of an expression often explains how the expression links to what it means.

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    There is a Wikipedia article which goes into the subject in some detail. – WS2 May 16 '17 at 21:59
  • There are a lot of good sources that provide information about its origin: google.it/… – user66974 May 16 '17 at 22:13
  • Comes from a scene early in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World where, as a person injured in an auto accident dies, he reflexively strikes a bucket with his leg. (OK, maybe it isn't the very first use of the expression, but it's a good one.) – Hot Licks May 16 '17 at 22:55
  • John Hotten's Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words, second edition (1860) has an interesting theory of the origin in his entry for "kick the bucket." Basically he finds early use of it in a regional glossary from Norfolk. – Sven Yargs May 17 '17 at 2:26
  • ...However, Hotten's source for the expression, Robert Forby, The Vocabulary of East Anglia, volume 2 (1830), doesn't confirm the gloss that Hotten gives—and in fact offers a second expression that (Forby says) is likewise "fit only for the mouths of rude, unfeeling boors": "to kick stiff." As Hotten says, the explanation comes as an ms annotation by a third researcher. – Sven Yargs May 17 '17 at 2:40