There is an idiom in Russian "to soap the rope". It refers to the action performed prior to hanging someone: if rope is greased with soap, noose knot will slide better.

In the case of My boss is soaping the rope it's pretty similar to "My boss is gonna hang me". But there is more to this idiom:

I'm soaping the rope -- it may be used by person who anticipates bad things will happen almost inevitably (exam is coming, but person is unprepared). OR If person feels depressed or physically/intellectually suffers (in pain, overwhelmed by work, very tired). All in all, declaration of suicidal thoughts, but without genuine desire to commit suicide.

Or it even may be used in positive context. Say, as "ROFL": I'm laughing so hard, I'm gonna soap the rope (I'm gonna die). Or Can't wait for this party, I'm already soaping the rope (party will surely be awesome).

  • In my family we say things like Shall I fetch the Stanley [knife]? if someone's vociferously bewailing their bad situation (alluding to the idea of offering someone an ultra-sharp blade so they can cut their own throat and spare the rest of us having to listen to the constant whingeing). But we're a bit of an oddball family, and I doubt our whimsical turn of phrase would count as an "idiom". Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 18:48
  • @FumbleFingers yep, "soap a rope" can be used in this context also, but I need something widespread, so listener/reader will not have to think about the meaning neither twice or even once =) Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 19:24
  • Not quite as far (or self-inflicted) as 'kick the bucket'? Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 20:21
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    @marcellothearcane nope, the nuance is that it is a "preparation", per se it's expectation or declaration of something almost inevitable will happen. it's like lacing the boots before you kick the bucket ((% and it may be applied to 3rd person. are constructions like Boss gonna kick my bucket next monday even used =)) Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 1:25
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    I can think of a few that relate to someone being about to die - "measuring him for a coffin" or "picking out flowers for his funeral"; or implying that I'm about to kill someone - "I'll swing for him"; but nothing that says a third party is about to kill me. Possibly "he's on the warpath" comes closest? Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 3:50

4 Answers 4


I'm still not entirely certain, after reading the question, whether the request is for a phrase that indicates suicidal ideation OR homicidal ideation on the part of another; in either case it seems that the intended effect is humorous or flippant rather than serious, so:

In our house, my better half and I joke that one or the other of us is buttering the stairs; I am almost certain that I stole this from P.G. Wodehouse, but I can't find the reference. The implication, of course, is that one of us is going to try to kill the other by causing an accident; equally of course, it's implicit that both of us know that this is a joke.

We sometimes refer to sticking one's head in the oven, a reference to Sylvia Plath's chosen exit. This is almost always used in a humorous way, as in this 1978 "Garfield" cartoon, or in Tom Petty's song Yer So Bad:

My sister's ex-husband
Can't get no lovin'
Walks around dog-faced and hurt
Now he's got nothin',
Head in the oven
I can't decide which is worse...


I can think of two phrases that might fit.

Dead man walking - Which refers to a man on his way to execution. Great phrase, but it is more of a title than something you'd do to the person like your original. This works great with your examples of a looming exam without hope or a person who has a broken spirit.

Giving last rites - That's got a bit of a Catholic overtone to it. But Hollywood has made it a fairly well understood phrase. I would say "Give me my last rites, I'm done", but I can't picture my boss being involved.


We have something similar, but the gist of it is confirmation, rather than preparation.

Stick me with a fork, I'm done.

It's a productive meme, it can be used in first, second and third person, and it can refer to just about any sense of done, including done for.

And there's the ever popular harbinger of doom

I think I hear banjos.

This is a reference to the movie Deliverance, which doesn't end well for the tourists.


Just the 2 words "Cement shoes" implies death by drowning. Used more in the context of death by another rather than by one's own hand: "They gave him a pair of cement shoes". A popular film & book portrayal in the 20th century of the way mobsters killed someone was to set a person's feet into wet cement, and when the cement was dry, drop them into the bay. If someone inquired as to the whereabouts of the victim it was then said "He swims with the fishes". To indicate suicidal thoughts a person would say, "I'm going to swim with the fishes" rather than, "I'm going to get me a pair of cement shoes."

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