SENTENCE USAGE: "You know I was just playin’ checkers with Merle the other day and now he’s up and kicked the bucket! I can’t believe he’s dead."
Why would one kick a bucket when he died? This is a phrase used to say someone is dead or has died.
One theory as to why the phrase originated is from the notion people committing suicide hanged themselves by standing on a bucket with a noose around their neck and then kicked the bucket away. Unfortunately, ‘kicking the bucket’ does not normally refer to death by suicide. Indeed, the person who kicks the bucket usually does so quite unwillingly.
In a similar vein, the phrase is said to have come from the act of a not-so-self-inflicted hanging; when a criminal was hung, particularly where there were no formal gallows, a rope would be placed around his neck and put over the bow of a tree. The criminal would be stood upon a bucket. The executioner, soldier or other appointed person would then "kick the bucket" from under the feet of the villain causing him to drop.
Another explanation is given by a Roman Catholic Bishop, The Right Reverend Abbot Horne, "After death, when a body had been laid out and the holy-water bucket was brought from the church and put at the feet of the corpse. When friends came to pray they would sprinkle the body with holy water."
It is easy to see how such a saying as "kicking the bucket" would come about.
The most probable explanation is from the 17th century: when slaughtering a pig, you often tied its back legs to a wooden beam (in French buquet). As the animal died it kicked the buquet. Makes