skip to content skip to search skip to navigation Listen Live skip to logon
Thursday 26th May 2016
Max 20°C | Min 12°C

Why do people "shuffle off this mortal coil"?

Question

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

Answer

** 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.