Death from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

"Time is an excellent teacher. Unfortunately, it kills all its pupils."
-- Hector Berlioz



1. The act of dying; termination of life.

The most pretentious thing I've ever seen engraved on a zippo:

"It is our desires come to kill us."

-- John Keats

The most pretentious tattoo I did not come to next to:

"n'est pas une corpse"

But we are all bodies, and our bodies all will end.

2. The state of being dead.

The Big Sleep.
Dirt nap.
Sleeping with the fishes.

Metaphors: the three fates, the norns, the red-spun thread, cut. That no-one knows the length of the string. Play cat's cradle. The same Alexander slashes this Gordian knot, with tedious inevitability and drama, baroque.

3. The cause of dying: Drugs were the death of him.

You're a caution. You're going to be the death of me. You're killing me. The little death. I would die for you. I can't imagine life without him/her/it/them.

4. A manner of dying: a heroine's death.

often Death A personification of the destroyer of life, usually represented as a skeleton holding a scythe.

My favorite personification of Death is by the Canadian artist ManWoman, who appeared in parades in a large cast body-sized skull, complete with a diagonal banner of a silken sash declaring his name, jaunty top hat and cane, just like Mr. Peanut. When appearing in cartoon form, his voice blob perkily announces, "Catch you later!"


a. Bloodshed; murder.

Famous murders, fictional and actual:

Woman who killed abusive spouse with frozen leg of lamb as club and then served it to the police.
Woman who killed abusive spouse by dropping his bowling ball on his head repeatedly.

Yesterday, driving south past Beaubien Woods, where they found a body, I note that the neighbor who was organizing a youth group outing to fly kites near there said that enthusiasm markedly decreased after the corpse was discovered. My passenger defensively observes that they find bodies in all the parks. I agree, but say that it was just a funny thing to overhear out of context. The passenger says that another south side park was more recently the dumping grounds for slain prostitutes. We immediately agree that every city has a park that's a dumping ground for slain prostitutes. Maybe they should be named as such: "Killed 'Ho' Park." Perhaps the occupation's fatality rate matches or beats that of fireman, policeman, convenience store clerk, or soldier. Superficial web research reveals that homicide is leading cause of occupational death for women -- accounting for more than a third of all female work-related fatalities. Murder is the leading cause of death for pregnant women. On the front lines in the battle of sexes. Your body is a battleground. Your body belongs to you, and this makes some people angry. How dare you conceive and threaten my freedom, force me to make a moral choice. Or: I buy you, but I cannot please you, so I kill you. Or: I have to buy you, so I kill you. Or: I just kill, and you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, so die, bitch.

Do you have a sister?

Why do they hate us?

Ground glass in the food. Poison is a woman's weapon. Taking in.

In 2003, 1,817 females in the United States were murdered by males in cases in which a single offender killed a single victim. In more than nine in ten of these cases (92 percent), the victim was murdered by someone she knew. Three in five victims who knew their offenders (62 percent) were wives or intimate partners of their killers.

Assuming a static rate of these homicides, approximately 981 American female lives have been lost to former lovers in the same interval as the war in Iraq. Less than twenty-five percent of the quantity, and a much lower ratio of the representative population, but one group is civilian, the other, professional. What is the quantitative categorization of wars by deaths? Do women live in an incident, skirmish, or in occupied territory, or perhaps constant low-grade hostility? Is it conscionable to sleep with the enemy?

Chris Isaaks' "Heart-Shaped World" is on the stereo. [Cue 'irony' "boing!" sound effect.]

b. Execution.

lethal injection/electrocution/hanging/gas/firing squad/decapitation/

Others provided by Wikipedia:

  • Burning, especially for religious heretics and witches on the stake
  • Boiling to death
  • Breaking wheel
  • Burial (alive, also known as the pit)
  • Crucifixion
  • Crushing by a weight, abruptly or as a slow ordeal - see also Various animal-related methods below.
  • Decapitation, or beheading (as by sword, axe or guillotine)
  • Disembowelment
  • Dismemberment
  • Drawing and quartering
  • Drowning, mostly done by way of the ducking stool and sometimes by walking the plank; cement shoes have allegedly been used by the Mafia
  • Electrocution (also electric chair)
  • Explosives
  • Exposure in animal skin
  • Flaying
  • Garrote
  • Gassing
  • Guillotine
  • Hanging
  • Impalement
  • Lethal injection
  • Marooning
  • Nitrogen asphyxiation (theoretical "humane" method of execution)
  • Poisoning
  • Pendulum Blade
  • Sawing
  • Scaphism and other similar methods
  • Shooting can be performed either
  • by Firing squad (Usually to maintain peace and threaten insurgent forces
  • by a single shooter (such as the neck shot, often performed on a kneeling prisoner, as in the PR China)
  • (especially collectively) by cannon or machine gun
  • Slow slicing
  • Stabbing
  • Starvation and Dehydration (sometimes as immurement)
  • Stoning
  • By being thrown from a height. Rome executed murderers and traitors by flinging them from the Tarpeian Rock. Defenestration, the act of throwing someone from a window, has been used more by rebels and angry mobs than by official executions. Death flights, throwing someone off a plane or helicopter, have been used in more recent times.
  • Various animal-related methods
  • Tearing apart by horses, e.g. Ancient China (using five horses) or "quartering," with four horses, as in The Song of Roland and Child Owlet
  • Attack/devouring by animals, such as dogs or wolves, as in Ancient Rome and the Biblical lion's den; by rodents (such as rats); by alligators or crocodiles, or carnivorous fish (such as piranhas or sharks); by crabs or by insects (such as ants)
  • Venomous stings from scorpions and bites by snakes, spiders, etc.
  • Snake pit
6. Law Civil death.
The American National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform Laws proposed, in 1980, a Uniform Determination of Death Act which has been adopted by, amongst others, Kansas, as statute 77-202 as follows:
"An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards."
Almost all US states have adopted the uniform definition.1

7. The termination of extinction of something: the death of imperialism.

Does anything lack a beginning, middle, and ending?


Does anything transcend narrative?
The story is all.
The story is all-being.
The all-being is God.
Narrative is God.

"Trust me. I'm telling you stories."

-- Jeanette Winterson

[Middle English deeth, from Old English d_ath; see dheu - 2 in Indo-European roots.]


- Erika Mikalo