Put on The Wooden Overcoat

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Put on The Wooden Overcoat : Phrases





The 'wooden overcoat' is, of course, the coffin. This colloquial phrase isn't recorded in many reference works and the origin is uncertain. It appears to be American in origin and most of the early printed citations come from the USA. The earliest that I can find is this piece from the Ohio newspaper The Coshocton Democrat, May 1870:

"If you want to get blowed up - if your life is insured in your wife's name and you want her to have the money immediately - buy some new-fangled burning fluid that is remarkable for its cheapness. There is no surer way of getting yourself into a wooden overcoat."

The 'new-fangled burning fluid referred to was petrol. No longer remarkable for its cheapness but still just as flammable.

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