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Monday 29th August 2016
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Why do people "shuffle off this mortal coil"?


I often hear the phrase “before I shuffle off this mortal coil”. Where does the word coil come from in this instance?
Tony, Abbey Wood


** Definitive **
Name: John, South Bank
Qualification: Classic legends
Answer: It comes from Greek Mythology. It relates to the theory that before the knowledge of gravity, people believed they were tied by ethereal ropes to the Earth and they slipped off the mortal coil when they died.