Dead Meat

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Meaning of Idiom 'Dead Meat'

To be dead meat means to be in serious trouble; as good as dead; dead. 1,2,3


The original meaning of dead meat, used since the mid-1800's, was dead, but since mid-1950's the idiom has been used as an exaggerated threat and rarely refers to actual death. 1


"If you don't pay me my five bucks you're dead meat!"

"Play one of your little pranks on me and you'll be dead meat."

"I owe a lot of money to some bad people. I'm dead meat."

"If I see you outside of school you're dead meat."


Used since the mid-1800's, this idiom alludes to a dead body being nothing but "meat."

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
3. Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill's American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.

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