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The Language of Death

May 6, 2009

I am a huge fan of the Dave Robicheaux novels by James Lee Burke. One of the reasons I like these books is that the dialogue frequently sounds like something out of The Godfather.  Conversations between main character Dave Robicheaux and his former police partner Clete Purcell are frequently peppered with terms like "greaseballs","stand-up guy", "meltdown",and "mainline con". Clete is forever talking about "blowing up their shit" or how someone is "anybody’s punch".  I’d love to talk like this but it just doesn’t fly at the country club.

Listening to one of the books on the drive to work, I realized that there are an inordinate number of words and phrases that we use in English to describe murder or death.  Here’s a smattering that come to mind this morning:

to pop

blow out someone’s candle

to clip

to whack

put someone down

put someone’s lights out

to flip off someone’s switch

to burn

to do up

to hit (as in take a hit out on )

to take a contract out on 

to ice

to bump off

to knock off

to off

to rub off

to rub out

to polish off

to remove

to slay

to take out

to buy a one way ticket

to punch someone’s ticket

wet work

to dust off

to chill

to cool

to exterminate

to assassinate

to execute

to ride the needle

to go to the chair

to take the life of

to take a ride

to put away

to snuff

to waste

to liquidate

to finish up

to finish off

to dispatch

to wrap up

to transfer

to attain

to send off

to absent

to disappear

to throttle

to bust a cap in/on

to cap

to slay

to catch the bus

to take a dirt nap

the big sleep

to throttle

to shoot

to strangle

to electrocute

to gas

to send to the gas chamber

to burke


Really, there’s no need to be looking over your shoulder.  Really.

 Have a happy Wednesday.


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