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buy the farm

To die; often, to die in battle.

Etymology:

  • US slang, from the WWII era. Similar expressions like buy the plot and buy the lot also existed, although buy the farm is the only one to have survived. When a military pilot with a stricken airplane attempted to crash land in a farmer's field, he would destroy a portion of the farmer's crops for which the US government paid reimbursement to the farmer. If it were a bad crash-landing destroying most of the crops then the crash would cause the buying of the whole farm, shortened subsequently to the current idiom. Probably related to older British slang buy it, buy one or buy the packet, both seemingly ironic references to something that one does not want to buy. May come from the common reflection that once someone had finished his service he would go home and buy a farm to settle on. Also, it may be in reference to the book Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Main characters George and Lennie always talk about owning their own farm where they will have to answer to no one and "live off the fatt'a the land".
43 Views

That cat must have been twenty years old when he finally bought the farm.

Submitted on September 01, 2009

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    "buy the farm." Phrases.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 16 Jul 2024. <https://www.phrases.com/phrase/buy-the-farm_2707>.

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