Give up the ghost

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Give up the ghost : Phrases


To die, or in the case of inanimate objects, to cease working.



There are many uses of this phrase in the Bible, including Acts 12:23 (King James Version: "And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost."

The metaphorical use of the phrase, i.e. in relation to something not living and not able to become a ghost, is 19th century. For example, James Kirke Paulding's, Westward Ho!, 1832, includes:

"At length it gave up the ghost, and, like an over-cultivated intellect, became incurably barren."

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