Kiss of death

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The idiom kiss of death has uncertain origins, but there are several theories. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of kiss of death, some possible explanations for its origin, and some examples of its use in sentences.

A kiss of death is something that occurs that guarantees the failure of an enterprise. Most people believe that the term kiss of death has its roots in the kiss that Judas gave to Jesus as a betrayal to the Romans, though the term kiss of death doesn’t appear until the 1940s. 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. However, it is easy to see the connection between the practice of the American Mafia and its roots in the kiss of Judas. The plural form of kiss of death is kisses of death. Note that the phrase is not capitalized, when used as an adjective before a noun the phrase is hyphenated as in kiss-of-death.


The kiss of death: Man posing for a photo with a deadly cobra in India doesn’t even realize when the snake bites his face… ‘then dies an hour later’ (The Daily Mail)

“As soon as (you) do one pop record it’s like the kiss of death for a female artist sometimes.” (The Colorado Springs Gazette)

SCIENTISTS have made a major breakthrough in the fight against cancer by masterminding a “kiss of death” technique which is able to destroy disease-causing proteins. (The Daily Express)