Have you ever heard the phrase, “kicked the bucket”? What does it actually mean? Yes, that they died, but how the hell does that make any sense?
Now if you’ve just shouted at the screen an explanation of the phrase, first off – check around the room to make sure no one is looking at you funny. Then, give yourself a brownie point. However, you may not be correct – because, you see, there are three commonly accepted explanations for the humble phrase, and no definitive proof over which is the correct explanation.
Allow me to elaborate;
The first is perhaps the simplest to explain: when hanging someone (a punishment used for crimes such as treason, murder, or stealing an apple) a noose is tied around the neck of the victim while they are standing on a temporary stand such as a bucket. This bucket is then kicked from under them and the victim dies a slow and painful death.
Another proposed explanation is that the phrase relates to the Catholic practice of sprinkling the deceased with holy water. The story goes that when a body is “laid out” for viewing, a bucket of holy water is bought over from the church. Visitors would then use the bucket to sprinkle the body with holy water while praying. Where the kicking part comes from in this explanation is not entirely clear.
A third explanation is probably the most plausible – but only because it is definitely the most complicated to explain. In the middle ages a bucket had alternative uses (Jack and Jill go to fetch a pail of water) and could also refer to a beam or a yoke that you could hang things off. In particular the “bucket” could be the beam that slaughtered pigs are suspended from. These pigs may have struggled on the bucket, leading to the expression. This definition of bucket is thought to have come from the French word trebuchet or burge, which means balance. This definition is still used in Norfolk’s traditional dialect.
|The Trebuchet played a vital role in the Siege of Gondor.|
And don’t even get me started on the phrase; “sucked a kumara”!