Over My Dead Body (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Over My Dead Body"?

The term "over my dead body" means no way or under no circumstances.
Over My Dead Body (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • You can get a pet tarantula over my dead body.
  • Over my dead body will you ever become a senior partner.
  • A tattoo? Over my dead body!
This idiom originates from the late 18th century, but it was not in popular use until the 1850s (evidence). It is a metonym for "you must kill me first" or "I will fight to the death to prevent this."

A common image that comes to mind is a knight who is prepared to protect something with his life. He is effectively saying "you will have to step over my dead body to get this." Despite all this talk of death, the saying is often used in a light-hearted fashion:
  • You can date my daughter over my dead body.

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