“Death and Taxes” Idiomatic Meaning, Origin and Examples

Have you ever been listening to a conversation when you heard the term ‘death and taxes’ and wondered what it meant? We are going to take a look at the meaning behind this phrase and where it came from along with some ways that it can be incorporated into your day to day conversations.

Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes Meaning

The term ‘death and taxes’ pertains to a quote made by Benjamin Franklin, in which he referred to the fact that there are only two certainties in this life, one being death and the other being that you will have to pay taxes. When someone says the term ‘death and taxes’ they are therefore talking about how we can only be certain of two things.

Origin of this Idiom

As we mentioned earlier, the phrase was originally written in a letter by Benjamin Franklin. This letter was written in the 1700s and the preceding words to the phrase read as follows; ‘but nothing in this world can said to be certain, except death and taxes.’

Other Ways to Say the Phrase

There are other ways in which you can express the meaning of the idiom ‘death and taxes.’ Here are some examples of that.

  • Nothing is guaranteed
  • You can never be certain of anything

“Death and Taxes” Examples

Example Sentences

You might use this saying when explaining to someone that you cannot be certain about a situation. You might use it to explain to someone that you cannot give them a certain time for the arrival of their package by saying something like

  • ‘I cannot guarantee your package will arrive by Monday, death and taxes.’

You can also use it to express that there are only two things that can be certain in life by saying something like

  • ‘I don’t know whether you will end up going on that dream holiday to Australia because there are only two certainties in life, and they are death and taxes.’

Conversation Examples

If you are interested to know more about how this phrase might fit into a conversation then here are some examples of how it might look. In the first conversation we see someone explaining that they cannot be sure that someone will not get sick and in the second we see two people expressing that there can only be a guarantee of two things.

Conversation 1:

  • Person 1:“Do you promise that I will not get sick?”
  • Person 2: “I can’t promise, nothing in life in certain, except for death and taxes.’

Conversation 2:

  • Person 1: “I would love to guarantee it but sadly I can’t.”
  • Person 2: “Of course you can’t, nothing is certain except death and taxes after all.”

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