50+ Creative Metaphors for Death

Published February 16, 2021
Smoke trailing from extinguished white candle

Metaphors for death can offer you examples of ways to convey someone has died without using what some people consider being a harsh or insensitive words. However, many metaphors for death are humorous and even irreverent, such as bite the dust, go belly up, or cash in one's chips.

How to Choose Metaphors for Death

If you need to choose a metaphor for death, consider the situation and those you will be saying it to. How will they receive the death metaphor?

What Is a Dead Metaphor Example That Is Funny?

If you decide that a humorous death metaphor is appropriate, make sure those you are saying it to will appreciate your sense of humor. Some funny metaphors for death are subtle, while others are very direct.

  1. Belly up: Animal dead on its back
  2. Bite the dust: Fall dead onto the ground
  3. Bought the farm: Pilot metaphor for crashing
  4. Candle snuffed out: End of life
  5. Checked out: Left this world
  6. Choir eternal: Joined the angelic choir
  7. Counting worms: Buried and worms assisting in decomposing
  8. Dead as a doornail: Nonanimated object not alive
  9. Deleted: Modern technological metaphor for gone
  10. Done for: Lost, no hope, dead
  11. Food for the worms: Worms consuming corpse
  12. Kicked the bucket: Method of suicide by kicking away a bucket
  13. Knockin' on heaven's door: Gone to heaven
  14. Now fertilizer: Human body decomposing back to earth
  15. Pulled the plug: Euphemism for stopping lifesaving medical devices
  16. Pushing up daisies: Human fertilizer for flowers
  17. Six feet under: Refers to traditional burial depth
  18. Sleeping with the fishes: Killed and body dumped in ocean
  19. Taking a dirt nap: Refers to falling on ground
  20. Terminated: Life ended
  21. They're history: No present or future life
  22. Toes turned up: Position of toes when lying dead on back
  23. Was capped: Death causing poisonous mushroom (mushroom cap)
Boot kicking bucket

Common Metaphors for Death

There are many common metaphors for death that people use in an attempt to lessen the grieving person's pain. These types of death metaphors often offer some kind of hope or comfort.

  1. Beyond the veil: Existence beyond death
  2. Crossed over: Soul leaving physical world for ethereal/spirit world
  3. Deceased: No longer exists
  4. Departed: Left, as in deceased, left this world
  5. Didn't make it: Didn't survive and died
  6. Expired: No longer breathing, dead
  7. Faded away: Person grew weaker and slowly died
  8. In a better place: Heaven
  9. It was their time: Allotted time spent
  10. Late: Posthumous as the late Mister James
  11. Lost the battle: Signifies battle with a disease
  12. Lost their life: No longer living
  13. Not with us anymore: No longer living in the physical
  14. Paid the ultimate price: Sacrificed their life
  15. Passed away or passed on: Euphemism for having moved on to another life
  16. Rest in peace: Long sleep of death
  17. Slipped away: The quiet death of someone lingering between life and death
  18. Was called home: Home in heaven
  19. Was not long for this world: Death only a matter of time
  20. We lost her/him: Signifies personal loss in death
  21. Went into the Light: God's Light to heaven
Woman timidly stepping into bright light coming out from dark tunnel

Metaphors About Death and Being Gone

There are a few metaphors for death that use the word gone. These death metaphors give a destination for where the deceased has traveled.

  1. Gone home in a box: Died away from home and shipped home in coffin
  2. Gone to Davy Jones's locker: Drowned
  3. Gone to last roundup: Cowboy metaphor
  4. Gone to meet their maker: Standing before God
  5. Gone to that big place in the sky: Heaven
  6. Gone to the Promised Land: Heaven
  7. Gone to their reward: Reaping afterlife rewards
  8. Gone west: Direction of setting sun
Sunset over South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Metaphors for Death in Poetry

Poetry is aided by metaphors for describing death with prose. You can find some very eloquent examples of death metaphors in well-known poems or prose.

  1. Crossing Jordan: The metaphor is taken from the Bible in reference to crossing the River Jordan into the Promised Land.
  2. Passing the sandbar: A poem by Tennyson (1809-1892) describes passing from this world to the next with the metaphor of a sailor crosses a sandbar into the open sea, "I hope to see my Pilot face to face When I have crost the bar."
  3. Rush to the secret house: This death metaphor is found in Shakespeare's (1564-1616) play, The Tragedie of Anthonie, and Cleopatra, "To rush into the secret house of death."
  4. Taking the carriage ride: "Because I Could Not Stop for Death," by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886). "Because I could not stop for Death - He kindly stopped for me-" describes taking a last carriage ride with death as the driver.
  5. Untimely frost: The metaphor is taken from a line in Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet, "Death lies on her like an untimely frost."
  6. Wake eternally: Is a metaphor derived from the poem, Death Be Not Proud," by John Donne (1572-1631). In the poem, Donne takes on death and ends with, "Death, thou shalt die."
Man reading the Bible

Metaphors for Death

There are many metaphors for death. You can read over lists of different types of metaphors to find one for almost any purpose.

50+ Creative Metaphors for Death