I have seen this sentence used many times, from the first time I can remember (Visual is not dead) to many examples including God is not dead (mainly coming from arguments against Nietzsche). But, for what I can recall, it genereally keeps the structure "[music style] is not dead"

So, does anyone know when and where was this expression used for the first time? I have tried googling it but it's likely that I did it wrong since I'm not native and I'm not sure how to google it.

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  • Did you try googling "is not dead"? – Elberich Schneider Aug 30 '12 at 20:54
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    I'm sure the apostles weren't breaking new linguistic territory after the crucifixion, when they went around telling everyone "Jesus is not dead". – FumbleFingers Aug 30 '12 at 20:54

So, does anyone know when and where this expression was used for the first time?

No; nobody knows when and where this expression was used for the first time. Nobody was copying it down and publishing it at the time. So we'll never know who, where, or when. Too bad, but that's the way it is.

As to what it means, it's a metaphor for cyclically-recurring social/popular trends in art, fashion, politics, games, movies, reality shows, and practically any other cultural phenomenon.

  • X is not dead; in fact, this season it's the new Y.
  • You thought that X was dead; I'm here to tell you that you're wrong.

X can be anything at all which everybody recognizes by name, and which some (are said to) claim is "dead", i.e boring, old-fashioned, not the done thing any more. To say

  • X is not dead

is to claim that X has been resurrected from the past and rebranded in a new, modern, up-to-date, luxuriously chic way that everyone will want, so why don't you?

I think that's remarkable specificity for just adding three syllables after X.

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    Yes, though sometimes "x lives!" conveys all of that, plus the sense of this being a truly astonishing revelation, in one third as many syllables. Seriously, I think they're excellent paraphrasings/expansions for OP's context. – FumbleFingers Aug 30 '12 at 21:13
  • Great explanation. As I stated, I'm not native (thought really interested in the English language), so I couldn't really tell how old it was. I think my question would better be is not dead got popular, but for the actual question, great answer. – Francisco Presencia Aug 30 '12 at 21:33
  • You should be able to generate an "X is not dead" Ngram at google; somebody here can point you to it. The problem will be filtering out all the metaphoric death examples; you could look for several common X's and see what the curves look like. Though that won't tell you why, just (if you're lucky) when. – John Lawler Aug 30 '12 at 21:43

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