Kick the bucket (antedating grammatical variant 1778 February; also 1780)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 2 23:43:45 UTC 2011

Joel mentioned that the OED has a first cite of 1785 for "kick the
bucket". I think that the following grammatical variant qualifies as
an instance of the idiom, but the experts may wish to examine it for
form and meaning.

Cite: 1778 February, The London Review [Correspondence To the London
Reviewers from M. MacGreggor dated February 20, 1778] Page 156 (Poem
starts), Page 158 (Quotation),  Printed for the Authors, Sold by T,
Evans, Pater-Noster-Row , London. (Google Books full view)

The Bustle Among the Busts; Or, The Poets-Coner in an Uproar.
Occasioned by the Appearance of Dr. Goldsmith's Monument in
Westminster-Abber. A Poem in Two Cantos.
by M. MacGreggor, Esq.
I wonder, indeed, he was not here before;
As the bucket he kick'd, now, a twelvemonth, or more.

If the 1778 cite is inadequate here is one in 1780:

Cite: 1780 May, The London magazine, For the London Magazine:
Observations on the Errors and Corruptions that have Crept into the
English Language Page 201. Column 2, Printed for R. Baldwin, London.

I will pocket the affront till you arrive; as to your enquiries about
old Wentworth, poor man! he died extremely rich; his disease stuck so
close to him that it has obliged him to kick the bucket, upon which
there is a strange dust raised, and reflections are bandied about by
his relations touching the will, who suspect there has been a good
deal shuffleing, and some treacherous cards played in it, ...

On Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 5:24 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      "to kick the bucket", 1789
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The OED has 1785, from Grose's dictionary, and then 1806.
> Or if, perchance, thou should the bucket kick,
> As those whose breath is stopt oft turn dead-sick,
> Than may anatomists put no tricks on thee;
> Setting themselves and 'prentices to work
> To cut and hack thee up, like beef or pork,
> As Doctor Foster carved Doctor Monsey!
> Brother Tom to Brother Peter, or Peter Paid in his own Pence: With
> the Articles of Partnership between the Devil and Peter Pindar,
> Esq.  An Historical Epistle.
> By a Moonraker.
> London: Sold by J. Parsons, 1789.
> Page 86.
> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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