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Death euphemisms translated from other languages

If you are in the habit of reading obituaries, you will notice that there are lots of euphemisms for death used in the English language. So, that got me wondering, what does this concept look like in other languages?

Here is a brief sampling from the website

“Polish Metaphors for Death

Kopnąć w kalendarz—to kick the calendarPrzejechać się na tamten świat- take a ride to the other worldWykorkować– cork offPożegnać się z życiem – say goodbye to one’s lifeSpocząć w grobie – rest in the graveSkończyć swoje dni – finish one’s daysZgasnąć jak świeca – go out like a candleOstatnie pożegnanie – last farewell

Romanian Metaphors for Death

A ajunge la export – to go to exportA-i crește grădinița pe piept – to have the garden growing on one’s chest

Slovene Metaphors for Death

Gospa s koso ga/jo je obiskala – the lady with a scythe has visited him/herPobralo ga/jo je – he/she was picked up/collected

Finnish Metaphors for Death

Heittää lusikka nurkkaan – to throw a spoon in the cornerPotkaista tyhjää – to kick empty spaceHeittää veivinsä – to throw one’s crank handle

Italian Metaphors for Death

Trovare la pace – to find one’s peaceSvegliarsi sotto a un cipresso – to wake up under a cypress.Andare a sentir cantare i grilli – to go listen to the crickets singTirare le cuoia – to stretch the leatherLasciarci le penne – to leave one’s feathers

Greek Metaphors for Death

βλέπει τα ραδίκια ανάποδα (vlepi ta radikia anapoda) – he sees the chicories upside downέσβησε το καντήλι του (esvisse to kandili tou) – his candle was extinguishedκόπηκε το νήμα της ζωής του (kopike to nima tiw zois tou) – the thread of his life was cut

Portuguese Metaphors for Death

Esticar o pernil – To stretch your legBater a bota – To kick the bootVestir pijama de madeira — to wear wooden pajamas

Spanish Metaphors for Death

Irse al otro barrio – to move/go to the other neighborhood.Seguir la luz – Follow the lightTirarse tres (pedos) <vulgar>- Literally, fart three timesEstá a 3 metros bajo tierra – To be three metres under

French Metaphors for Death

Manger les pissenlits par la racine — to eat dandelions by the rootsPasser l’arme à gauche- To put the weapon on the left-sideN’avoir plus mal aux dents — To have no more toothacheFermer son parapluie — To close one’s umbrella

Hungarian Metaphors for Death

Csókot vált a halállal – exchange kisses with DeathOtthagyja a fogát – leave one’s teethKileheli a lelkét – exhale one’s soulBeadja a kulcsot – hand in the key

Danish Metaphors for Death

Stille træskoene — to leave one’s clogs behind

German Metaphors for Death

Das Gras/die Radieschen) von unten betrachten — To look at the grass/the radishes from belowDe Schirm zue tue —To close the umbrella (Swiss)Den Löffel abgeben – Give away the spoonIn Gras beißen – Bite into the grass

Dutch Metaphors for Death

De pijp aan Maarten geven – To give the pipe to (Saint) MartinOp de hemelpoort kloppen – To knock on heaven’s door

Russian Metaphors for Death

Отбросить копыта– Cast off one`s hoovesОтправиться к праотцам – To go to the forefathersДать дуба – lit. “to give the oak”

Chinese Metaphors for Death

去咗賣鹹鴨蛋。 (Cantonese) – Have gone to sell salty duck eggs升天(sheng tian) – Rise to the heaven去黄泉(qu huang quan) – Go to the yellow spring见马克思 (jian ma ke si) – To meet Karl Marx (for Communist party leaders)

Japanese Metaphors for Death

世を去る (yo wo saru) – To leave the world命の火が消える (inochi no hi ga kieru) –  To vanish your life’s flame花と散る (hana to chiru) – To fall with the flowers人生の幕を下ろす (jinsei no maku wo orosu) – To lower the curtain of life帰らぬ人となる (kaeranu hito to naru) –  Become a non-returning person”



I found these fascinating. Regardless of how it is phrased, these euphemisms for death and dying may be viewed as a gentler way to deliver the news of a death to someone.


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