Green’s Dictionary of Slang

die v.

1. of a performer, to fail utterly, to have a difficult time.

[UK]G. Smeeton Doings in London 98: Pantomime was first performed, in the year 1702, at Drury Lane, in an entertainment called Tavern Bilkers: it died the fifth night.
[US]Van Loan ‘Out of His Class’ in Taking the Count 184: What do they care for the emotional stuff? Last night poor old Lorenze died standing up.
[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 8: Small-town Comedy will not get across unless the Audience is sufficiently Sprung to be in a Receptive Mood. Billy died.
[US]Goodman & Kolodin Kingdom of Swing 195: Meanwhile, we weren’t doing any business—maybe fifteen, twenty couples on a week night and a hundred people on a week-end, but we were just dying .
[UK]Wodehouse Mating Season 193: The act died standing up.
[UK]K. Williams Diaries 15 Dec. 137: It was a ghastly TV excerpt & we died a death.
M. Braun Love Me Do 28: ‘Cliff [Richard] went there [i.e. America] and he died’.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 68: I was dying on that test — I had to guess on over half the questions.
[Aus](con. 1964-65) B. Thorpe Sex and Thugs and Rock ’n’ Roll 99: ‘That ballad [...] dies every time you do it’.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 120: R.C. is dying out there, his nostrils flaring, his breath coming in angry rasps.

2. to collapse with laughter.

[US]S. Longstreet Flesh Peddlers (1964) 146: You’da died, amigo, when we got those chairs on fire. Sid, fat as he is, went up screaming [...] ten feet in the air.

3. to be overwhelmed by admiration or approval.

C. von Ziegesar Cobble Hill 202: My friend Manfred thinks he'd go crazy over you [...] That skin! That hair! T [...] He is going to die’ .

SE in slang uses

In compounds

die-devil rasp (n.)

(UK Und.) a desperate villain, undeterred by any form of opposition.

[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict. n.p.: Die-devil rasp a desperate villain, who will cut or fight through every thing.

In phrases

die dog (or shite the licence) (v.) (also die dog or eat the meat-axe/hatchet, ...for them that pats me)

(Aus./Irish) to commit oneself unreservedly.

[US]R.M. Bird Nick of the Woods II 85: I came here to show [...] that I’m the man, Ralph Stackpole, to die dog for them that pats me.
[US]L.H. Medina Nick of the Woods II iii: I’m the man to die dog for them that pats me.
[US]A. Adams Log of a Cowboy 36: I never questioned that man’s advice; it was ‘die dog or eat the hatchet’.
[Aus]S. Gore Holy Smoke 36: It was a case of die, dog, or eat the meat-axe.
D. Maccash at Mudcat Cafe 🌐 Oh well, I’m running the risk of offending fellow Ultonians by this post. Still, as me oul’ da would have said, die dog or shite the licence!
die dungill (v.) [dunghill n.1 ]

to die in a cowardly manner, repenting or showing any act of contrition on the gallows, where a plucky villain was supposed to display bravado.

[UK]W. Toldervy Hist. of the Two Orphans IV 52: Therefore, Sir, added he, either put on a resolution to serve your fortune, by producing the money, or entirely give it up, decline, submit, be a wretch, and die dunghill.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Oct. V 6/1: I am spirit to the backbone – never die dunghill.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
die in one’s boots (v.) (also die with one’s boots on)

1. to be hanged.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 306/2: late C.17–early 19.

2. (US) to die by violence, esp. in a gunfight.

Denver Republican 9 Apr. n.p.: When in liquor he was quarrelsome and the prediction was commonly made that he would die with his boots on [F&H].
[US](con. WW1) E.C. Parsons Great Adventure 333: I know he didn’t want to die, but if it was so written in the stars, he died as he would have wished—with his boots on, fighting to the last.

3. to die when still hard at work, ‘in harness’.

L.J. Valentine Night Stick 240: Policemen and policewomen can well hold their heads high. They wear their courage with modesty. They live and they die with their boots on.
L. Schoenberg q. in Firestone Swing, Swing, Swing (1993) 450: He was determined to go out with his boots on, exactly the way he wanted to go, and that’s what he did.
die in one’s shoes (v.)

see under shoe n.

die in the arse (v.)

see under arse n.

die like Jenkin’s hen (v.)

to die unmarried.

[UK]A. Ross Helenore in Wattie Scot. Works (1938) 99: I hear by far she dy’d like Jenkin’s hen.
[Scot]A. Scott Poems ‘The Old Maid’ 87: I ance had sweethearts nine or ten, And dearly dawted we’ the men... But Oh! the death of Jenkins’ hen, I shudder at it.
die on a fish day (v.) [? hangings taking place on Catholic ‘fish-days’, i.e. Wednesdays and Fridays]

to be hanged.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Die like a Dog, to be hang’d . . . Die on a Fish-day, or in his shoes, the same.
die on it (v.)

(Aus.) to break one’s promise, to fail to finish something one has undertaken to do.

[Aus]Arrow (Sydney) 20 Apr. 7/1: There was no excuse for Belle Blue, and as to E.L.O., he made a run on the rails which looked like danger, and then died on It.
[Aus]Eve. Jrnl (Adelaide) 24 Aug. 4/6: Johnson told witness that Black had promised to assist him in the robbery, but had ‘died’ on it.
[Aus]Age (Melbourne) 8 May 6/8: Mr. L. Whelan opened the proceedings, remarking that the man convened it had apparently ‘died on it’.
Dly Standard (Brisbane) 10 Mar. 8/1: Idanora made a smart run coming to the home turn, but died on it in the straight .
[Aus]Chron. (Adelaide) 15 June 23/6: West Wind made a run half-way up the straight, but died on it, her saddle having slipped forward.
[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang.
die on the vine (v.)

(US teen) to lack a social life, to stay in at home.

Baltimore Sun 22 June Magazine 6/4: Die on the vine . . . stay at home.
die with cotton in one’s ears (v.) [proper name Rev. Cotton, the early 19C Newgate ‘ordinary’ or chaplain, ‘an able and indefatigable man’ who would preach a last sermon to the condemned man]

to be hanged.

[[UK] ‘Pickpocket’s Chaunt’ (trans. of ‘En roulant de vergne en vergne’ in Vidocq 1829) IV 262: And we shall caper a-heel-and-toeing, / A Newgate hornpipe some fine day / With the mots their ogles throwing, / And old Cotton humming his pray].
[UK]Bell’s Wkly Messenger 11 Dec. 398/1: He got lagged and scragged — that’s time of day with the best ’uns — a rope for their cravat, and cotton in their ears.
[UK]Athenaeum 29 Oct. No. 1931 Rev. of Sl. Dict. n.p.: When a late chaplain of Newgate [Rev. Mr. Cotton] used to attend poor wretches to the scaffold, standing by their side to the last moment, they were said to ‘die with cotton in their ears!’ .
[UK](ref. to 1839) Temple Bar 16 548: Mr. Cotton [...] thought of a good opportunity for retiring. ‘I have now,’ he said, ‘accompanied just three hundred and sixty-five poor fellows to the gallows. That's one for every day in the year. I may retire after seeing such a round number die with cotton in their ears’.
[UK]H. Mayhew London Characters 348: The rogues were pleased to style such a mode of making their exit from the world as ‘dying with Cotton in one’s ears’.
[UK]Burnley Exp. 8 Aug. 4/8: Victims of the hangman’s rope were said to ‘die with cotton in their ears’.