- (idiomatic, euphemistic, colloquial) To die.
- The old horse finally kicked the bucket.
- (idiomatic, colloquial) Of a machine, to break down such that it cannot be repaired.
- I think my sewing machine has kicked the bucket.
There are many theories as to where this idiom comes from, but the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) discusses the following:
- A person standing on a pail or bucket with their head in a slip noose would kick the bucket so as to commit suicide. The OED, however, says this is mainly speculative;
- The OED describes as more plausible the archaic use of "bucket" as a beam from which a pig is hung by its feet prior to being slaughtered. To kick the bucket, then, originally signified the pig's death throes;
Another explanation is given by a Roman Catholic Bishop, The Right Reverend Abbot Horne, F.S.A. He records on page 6 of his booklet "Relics of Popery" Catholic Truth Society London, 1949, the following: