Dirt Nap

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sun May 3 06:51:38 UTC 2009

On Sun, May 3, 2009 at 12:14 AM, Murrah Lee <mclee at murrah.com> wrote:
> I was speaking with a friend and historian in East Texas recently, and
> he used the term "dirt nap" to state that someone had died.  It was
> the first time I had ever heard the term, and I thought it was so
> colorful that I would report it to the list.

Recorded by most of the major slang dictionaries, as well as OED3
(Dec. 2008 draft entry):

dirt nap, n.
U.S. slang.
[< DIRT n. + NAP n.3, with allusion to the interment of the dead.]

Death; an instance of dying. Freq. in _to take a dirt nap_: to die.

1981 in J. E. Lighter Hist. Dict. Amer. Slang (1994) I. 603/1 We've
got to convince him that Hildy's taken a dirt nap. 1987 N.Y. Times 18
Jan. XXIII. 32/6 You glance through the folder, a compendium of bad
news with references to the big sleep, the deep six, the dirt nap.
2002 Indianapolis Star 19 Apr. (Weekend section) 23/3 [He] was just a
Burger Doodle Deluxe and a martini away from a dirt nap. 2004 P2 No.
54. 44/4 The Helghast army..can absorb some serious firepower before
they even think about taking a dirt nap.

(The 1981 HDAS cite is from the TV show "Bosom Buddies." The episode
"Hildy's Dirt Nap" aired on Feb. 11, 1982.)

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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