Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Giving Up the Ghost..."

While on the topic of alternates to the verb "to die"  (see yesterday's post), I remember Nora, our Caribbean housekeeper, nanny, and second-mother to me refer to death as "giving up the ghost". I thought it strange, asked her about it, and in typical fashion after ignoring my inquiries for a good long time, she eventually clued me in on the meaning of her words. She used many phrases unfamiliar to me; derived either from the Bible or her youthful days on the island of Carricaou. I took them all in but it would be years later that I'd understand their meaning.  So it is with "giving up the ghost".

No surprise; Nora's terminology came from the Bible. She was a deeply religious woman and I'd often find her reading the worn pages of my maternal grandmother's Bible (gifted to her by my mother which is a separate story). In the King James version of the Bible, "giving up the ghost" means: a dying breath and is found in both the Old and New Testaments.

I took the phrase about the ghost and incorporated it into my vocabulary, expanding the usage of the term to include the demise of inanimate objects like alarm clocks, radios, car batteries and the like when they'd go on the fritz or forever surrender function.  I remember my dear friend and college roommate, Ms. MBJ loving the phrase but never quite remembering it, referring to it as, "dropping the ghost" on more than one occasion. Good times, all.

Because synonyms for "to die" are as prevalent as synonyms for the jailhouse (see my recent post about Durrance Vile) and because I dearly love the particularly edgy expressions, I'll pour forth here.

Bought  the farm
Bit the dust
Went belly up
Breathed his last (much like the ghost, no?)
Passed away, Passed on
Left us
Checked out
Bit the big one
Went to the happy hunting ground (one of Mom's favorites)
Pooped out
Shorted out

And, jillions of other terms; if you have any interest go here.

More on the term shorted out later; I'm just getting started. I love words.

1 comment:

  1. Among Aviators, the phrase is "He (or she) has flown West for the last time."


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