Dead meat

To be dead meat is an idiom that has been in use in a metaphoric way for about 75 years. We will examine the meaning of the idiom to be dead meat, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To be dead meat means to be dead. In this case, dead meat refers to a dead body. Most often, the idiom to be dead meat is used to indicate that someone is in severe trouble, that someone has performed a serious transgression that will have serious consequences, or that someone has made such a grave mistake he can not bounce back and be successful in his endeavor. The expression to be dead meat is often used as a threat, as in you are dead meat. The phrase dead meat came into use in the mid-1800s to mean a corpse. By the mid-1900s, the term dead meat came to mean someone is in severe trouble.

Examples

I didn’t know what that expression meant, but I saw his face change structure and I knew I was dead meat. (The Irish Times)

I was getting looks from the film crew as if I was dead meat. (The Daily Express)

If you don’t have a Netflix subscription at this age, you are dead meat! (The Daily Bayonet)

I thought if I tell anyone you are dead meat. (The Liverpool Echo)

Retrospectively, it seems that was a tactical decision made by a boy who knew he was dead meat already. (Vanity Fair)