die (v.)

mid-12c., dien, deighen, of sentient beings, "to cease to live," possibly from Old Danish døja or Old Norse deyja "to die, pass away," both from Proto-Germanic *dawjan (source also of Old Frisian deja "to kill," Old Saxon doian, Old High German touwen, Gothic diwans "mortal"), from PIE root *dheu- (3) "to pass away, die, become senseless" (source also of Old Irish dith "end, death," Old Church Slavonic daviti, Russian davit' "to choke, suffer").

It has been speculated that Old English had *diegan, from the same source, but it is not in any of the surviving texts and the preferred words were steorfan (see starve), sweltan (see swelter), wesan dead ("become dead"), also forðgan and other euphemisms.

Languages usually don't borrow words from abroad for central life experiences, but "die" words are an exception; they often are hidden or changed euphemistically out of superstitious dread. A Dutch euphemism translates as "to give the pipe to Maarten."

Regularly spelled dege through 15c., and still pronounced "dee" by some in Lancashire and Scotland. Of plants, "become devitalized, wither," late 14c.; in a general sense of "come to an end" from mid-13c. Meaning "be consumed with a great longing or yearning" (as in dying to go) is colloquial, from 1709. Used figuratively (of sounds, etc.) from 1580s; to die away "diminish gradually" is from 1670s. To die down "subside" is by 1834. Related: Died; dies.

To die out "become extinct" is from 1865. To die game "preserve a bold, resolute, and defiant spirit to the end" (especially of one facing the gallows) is from 1793. Phrase never say die "don't give up or in" is by 1822; the earliest contexts are in sailors' jargon.

"Never look so cloudy about it messmate," the latter continued in an unmoved tone—"Cheer up man, the rope is not twisted for your neck yet. Jack's alive; who's for a row? Never say die while there's a shot in the locker. Whup;" [Gerald Griffin, "Card Drawing," 1842]

die (n.)

"small cube marked on each face with spots numbering from one to six, used in gaming," early 14c. (as a plural, late 14c. as a singular), from Old French de "die, dice," which is of uncertain origin. Common Romanic (cognates: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian dado, Provençal dat, Catalan dau), perhaps from Latin datum "given," past participle of dare "to give" (from PIE root *do- "to give"), which, in addition to "give," had a secondary sense of "to play" (as a chess piece); or else the notion is "what is given" (by chance or Fortune).

The numbers on the opposite sides always add up to seven; otherwise there is no uniformity to their arrangement. Sense of "engraved stamping block or tool used for stamping a softer material" is from 1690s. Perhaps so called because they often were used in pairs (to impress on both sides, as of a coin).

Figurative phrase the die is cast "the decisive stem is taken" is from 1630s, in reference to the throw of the dice. The expression translates Latin alea iacta est (or iacta alea est), famously uttered by Caesar when he crossed the Rubicon.

updated on April 28, 2022

Definitions of die from WordNet
die (v.)
pass from physical life and lose all bodily attributes and functions necessary to sustain life;
She died from cancer
Synonyms: decease / perish / go / exit / pass away / expire / pass / kick the bucket / cash in one's chips / buy the farm / conk / give-up the ghost / drop dead / pop off / choke / croak / snuff it
die (v.)
suffer or face the pain of death;
Martyrs may die every day for their faith
die (v.)
be brought to or as if to the point of death by an intense emotion such as embarrassment, amusement, or shame;
We almost died laughing during the show
I was dying with embarrassment when my little lie was discovered
die (v.)
stop operating or functioning;
The car died on the road
Synonyms: fail / go bad / give way / give out / conk out / go / break / break down
die (v.)
feel indifferent towards;
She died to worldly things and eventually entered a monastery
die (v.)
languish as with love or desire;
She dying for a cigarette
I was dying to leave
die (v.)
cut or shape with a die;
Synonyms: die out
die (v.)
to be on base at the end of an inning, of a player;
die (v.)
lose sparkle or bouquet;
Synonyms: pall / become flat
die (v.)
disappear or come to an end;
My secret will die with me!
Their anger died
die (v.)
suffer spiritual death; be damned (in the religious sense);
Whosoever..believes in me shall never die
die (n.)
a small cube with 1 to 6 spots on the six faces; used in gambling to generate random numbers;
Synonyms: dice
die (n.)
a device used for shaping metal;
die (n.)
a cutting tool that is fitted into a diestock and used for cutting male (external) screw threads on screws or bolts or pipes or rods;
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.