It’s curtains for you

The phrase it’s curtains for you comes from a source hundreds of years old, but the idiom itself has only been in use since the last century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as beat around the bush, ballpark figure, let the cat out of the bag, hit the sack, close but no cigar, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, a dime a dozen, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the expression it’s curtains for you, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

It’s curtains for you is an admonition that this is the end, that something has come to an adverse or unfortunate end. Often, it’s curtains for you is used to mean that someone is going to kill you. The phrase indicates a finality, and may simply mean that you are going to be caught for a transgression and sent to jail, or that an enterprise will not come to a satisfactory ending. The idiom it’s curtains for you was popularized in American films concerning gangsters in the 1920s and 1930s. The phrase became so well-known it is still often used when speaking hyperbolically, as in humorous works or cartoons. The idiom it’s curtains for you is taken from the fact that the final stage direction in many plays is simply the word “curtain”, meaning it is time to draw the curtain and end the play.


“You will work in a bank for 10 to 15 years and then a robot will come onto the scene and it is curtains for you.” (The Business Insider)

If you haven’t already spotted the two heavily-armed men hidden in this picture, it could be curtains for you. (The Daily Mail)

Those old barges were water logged and so heavy that if they did flip and come down on top of you it would be as the old man was fond of saying, “it’ll be curtains for you.” (The Fall River Herald News)

“Stock up on sleep now because it’s curtains for you when the baby gets here,” well-intentioned parents at my office warned me, as if I weren’t already tossing all night from the stress. (Runner’s World Magazine)

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