Kiss of Death – Idiom, Meaning and Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

The kiss of death means something that spells inevitable failure or doom for something or someone. A far cry from that romantic first kiss, eh? This idiom has an origin buried deep in cultural history and drama, making it a powerful way to express a decisive turn of events.

An idiom is a phrase or expression whose meaning cannot be understood from the ordinary meanings of its individual words. Adding idioms to sentences is almost like adding pictures to a story—without them, communication would be a bland experience. So, read on and find out the true meaning of kiss of death and see how you can use it in sentences.

Kiss of Death Meaning Explained

Kiss of Death – Idiom Meaning and Origin

The full expression is generally something along the lines of “the ____ is the kiss of death for ____,” where the blanks are filled in with relevant subjects.

We use the idiom “kiss of death” to signify an event or an action that leads to negative consequences or failure. Unlike a literal kiss, which might lead to a night of romance or a lasting relationship, the kiss of death signifies the eternal end of something. To me, it just sounds like the perfect title for a vampire romance novel!

The Kiss of Death Origin and Etymology

Kiss of Death Ngram
Kiss of death usage trend.

This phrase has biblical ties and was popularized through several different mediums like literature, theater, and film. It had a sudden spike in popularity during the mid-nineteen hundreds. Most people associate it with Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus Christ with a kiss, but some believe that the phrase kiss of death refers to a practice among the American Mafia of bestowing a kiss on someone who has betrayed the Mafia don and is therefore marked for death.

Synonyms for Kiss of Death Saying

Use any one of these alternatives to saying ‘kiss of death’ to switch up your wordage.

  • Death knell
  • Final blow
  • Fatal flaw
  • Ruin
  • Betrayal
  • Downfall

‘Kiss of Death’ in Sentence Examples

Kiss of Death – Idiom Meaning and Origin 1

  • Unfortunately, his endorsement was the kiss of death for her campaign.
  • The bad book review from the popular critic was the kiss of death for the new author.
  • Missing that deadline was the kiss of death for our project.
  • “Taking the shortcut through the forest was the kiss of death for this weekend hike,” he said as he cleaned the wounds on his legs.
  • A massive city-wide power outage during the launch event was the kiss of death for their tech startup.
  • “Her refusal to adapt was the kiss of death for her career,” the manager told the staff as a warning to them all.
  • Getting caught plagiarizing was the kiss of death for the professor’s academic future.
  • That penalty in the final minute was the kiss of death for their hopes of getting a championship trophy.
  • The sudden price hike with no offer of extra material proved to be the kiss of death for the streaming service.
  • “If you want to succeed in the publishing industry, avoiding marketing is the kiss of death,” she advised.

Kiss, Kiss

The kiss of death is a phrase that packs a punch, or rather, a peck on the cheek. It clearly expresses the gravity of a situation that leads to some form of failure or termination.

For more gripping idioms that elevate your speech from a whisper to a scream, keep exploring my other articles. Who knows? The next idiom could be your kiss of life in a dull conversation!