Bucket List

John M. Spartz jspartz at PURDUE.EDU
Sun Jan 6 18:33:18 UTC 2008

The current movie, "The Bucket List" may have started something. Listening to
ESPN Radio on XM the other day, I heard the commentators talking about their
"Sports Bucket Lists" (a sub-list of the bucket list?) which included things
such as watching a game a Fenway Park, going to the Football Hall of Fame, and
attending the Indy 500, among other things. Obviously the idea of creating a
list of things to do before one dies isn't new (lots of books and such on this),
but the name might be.

Also, a Google search for *Bucket List* yields, primarily, hits related to the
movie. But, there does seem to be some use of this term in the "wild" (e.g.
http://www.black-iris.com/2007/12/27/whats-your-bucket-list/), albeit derived
from the movie title.

This obviously come from *Kick the Bucket*, but I can't seem to find a
definitive etymology of this idiom/euphemism. Discussion (even in OED) ranges
from a person standing on a bucket (and then kicking it) for committing suicide
by hanging to the placing of the holy-water bucket at the feet of the diseased
for sprinkling and blessing in Catholic funerals. Any more definitive explanations?

John M. Spartz
jspartz at purdue.edu
English Linguistics
Purdue University

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

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