blaze of glory
wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Aug 4 22:43:10 UTC 2008
OED takes no official notice of this phrase, though it does appear a few times in citations. But not after 1526.
It seems to me that the longer phrase "go out in a blaze of glory" now has a specific idiomatic meaning, namely "to make an end, esp. to die, in some unforgettable manner." It especially seems to mean, "to die by choice while in a murderous frenzy."'
Nowadays - to quote Humpty Dumpty, an ovoid often cited here - "There's glory for you!"
A desultory search turn up the longer phrase from at least as 1868, but only in a positive contexts involving actual glory of one sort or another.
I first consciously noticed the invidious usage nearly a decade ago in regard to the Columbine High psychos , but it seemed familiar even then. A diligent search seems likely to show a larger number of recent exx. of the novel sense than of the original one.
1998 Stephen Prince _Savage Cinema_ (Austin: U. Tex. P.) 99: Recalling his first encounter with _The Wild Bunch_, screenwriter Charles Higson stressed that the film's violence stimulated an "orgiastic" [sic] release of energy in him. "Once the film was over, I was exhausted and in a state of high nervous excitement. I wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. I wanted a Gatling gun. I wanted to be pierced by a hundred bullets."
2005 L. A. Banks _The Forbidden_ (N.Y.: Macmillan) 425: Oh, right, and she was supposed to keep a trigger-happy rabbi who wanted to go out in a blaze of glory chilled out.
What prompted this observation is that in describing the final days of Dr. Bruce Ivins, the late mad scientist, his psychiatrist reported (on Fox, of course) that "He said he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, that he was going to take everybody out with him."
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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