Pushing Up Daisies – Meaning & 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.

Looking to add a few new idioms to your vocab? Let’s check out pushing up daisies. It’s a common phrase that manages to make the ultimate life transition sound like an active hobby. But there’s a good reason we use it today, and I’ll break it all down for you right here. Let’s dive in!

Pushing Up Daisies Meaning Explained

Pushing Up Daisies Meaning Origin

When someone says that a person is pushing up daisies, they aren’t suggesting that the person has taken up gardening as a pastime. Rather, it’s a colorful and somewhat jocular way of saying that the person in question is deceased and buried.

The image is of a body decomposing under a flower-filled meadow, nourishing the plants. I know it’s a bit dark, but that’s idiomatic humor for you!

Pushing Up Daisies: A Metaphor and an Idiom?

You bet! Pushing up daisies is totally a metaphor because it uses imagery to represent a different concept, like death. But it’s also considered an idiom because the phrase doesn’t literally mean helping flowers to grow. English speakers are strange but creative like that!

Origin and Etymology of Pushing Up Daisies

Pushing Up Daisies Ngram
Pushing up daisies usage trend.

This phrase stems from the merry old land of England and has been in use since at least the 19th century. As with most idioms in our English language, the exact origin isn’t really clear, but it did pop up during the first world war and is more commonly used in Britain.

Alternative Versions of the Saying

So, pushing up daisies is the most common form, but there are a few variations floating around. Some folks might say pushing up poppies or feeding the daisies. There’s also the less common (and less garden-oriented) wearing a pine overcoat, which refers to a wooden coffin. Dark humor is the best!

Synonyms for Pushing Up Daisies

Looking for a way to talk about the great Beyond without getting too morbid? Well, they’re still morbid, but you can’t really avoid it when talking about death and idioms. Here are a few alternatives you can use instead.

  • Taking a dirt nap
  • Six feet under
  • Wearing a pine overcoat
  • Kicking the bucket
  • Sleeping with the fishes

Pushing Up Daisies Examples in a Sentence

Pushing Up Daisies Meaning Origin 1

Ready to use this phrase in a way that won’t kill the conversation? At least these sentences give a deeper context around using the phrase.

  • If you keep eating junk food daily, you’ll push up daisies sooner than you’d like.
  • It’s finally time to admit that old car of mine is about ready to start pushing up daisies.
  • The villain in the movie ended up pushing up daisies by the end but took the hero with him.
  • We found an old doghouse in the backyard of our new house, but any pooch that might have lived in it is likely pushing up daisies by now.

Signing Off on Common Idioms 

And that’s my deep dive into the idiom pushing up daisies. While the subject might be a tad macabre, the phrase adds lightness and humor to an otherwise serious topic. Just remember, this phrase is best used in informal or casual conversation.