"dice with death"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 21 00:10:20 UTC 2013

"To risk life, esp. daringly or foolishly."

OED: 1941.

[1834 E. G. E. Bulwer Lytton _Last Days of Pompeii_ (Paris: Baudry) 348: "He
who plays at *dice with death* must expect the dog's throw," replied Sosia,

[1847 _Literary Record and Journal of the Linnean Association of
Pennsylvania College_ (Aug.) 225: The spectral woman who diced with death
for the souls of the crew and won the ancient mariner.]

[1873 _First Annual Report of the Secretary of the State Board of Health of
the State of Michigan_ (Lansing: W. S. George, 1874) 54: It is time that
our laws should be enforced, and that these parties who throw *dice with
death* for a few pennies' profit should be made to feel that human life is
too precious to be thus sold for gain.]

1875 Sebastian Evans _In the Studio_  (London: Macmillan) 170: Sir
Lancelot...of old hath diced with Death, and won/ The life he freely staked
on his emprize.

[1893 W. H. H. Murray _Adirondack Tales_ III (Springfield, Mass.: pvtly.
ptd.) 234: Son of [the] bravest man that ever trod a deck or chanced the
dice with death that he might westward find a path for the commerce of the

[1898 Herbert Spencer _The Principles of Ethics_ II (N.Y.: D. Appleton)
369: When throwing dice with Death, the question whether Death's dice are
loaded may fitly be asked.]

1907 Alfred Noyes, in _Blackwood's Mag._ (July) 143: Drake laughed: - "My
lads, we have diced/ With Death to-day and won!"

[1910 H. C. George, in _Collier's Weekly_ (Jan. 15) 15: "Shaking the dice
with death" is a phrase brought to us by the "barn-stormers" who took
charge of auto-racing a few years ago.]

1916 J. H. Knight-Adkin, in _The Spectator_ (London) (Apr. 8) 466: Boche or
British, Belgian or French, /You dice with death when you cross the trench.


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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