Die in harness


      • continue working until death
        To work until the very end of one's life, without retiring or giving up one's responsibilities

      • die while actively engaged in a task
        To pass away while still actively involved in a job or duty

    Examples of Die in harness

    • The famous composer Beethoven died in harness at the age of 56 as he was still working on his Ninth Symphony.

      The idiom "die in harness" refers to someone dying while still actively working or engaged in their profession. In other words, the person does not retire or step down, but continues working until the end of their life. The phrase "harness" in this context means the state of being productively and efficiently engaged in a job or profession, much like a working horse wears a harness to carry out its work. So "die in harness" signifies that the individual dies while being fully productive and active in their chosen field.

    • The CEO of the company passed away in harness at her desk, surrounded by papers and files.

      This example illustrates the use of the idiom in a modern-day scenario. The sentence highlights the fact that the CEO was still working at her desk, surrounded by work-related papers and files, and died while still engaged in her job. Hence, the idiom "die in harness" is appropriate in this context as it signifies that the person died in a state of productivity and involvement in their job.

    • The famous artist Michelangelo died in harness at the age of 88 while working on a sculpture in his basement.

      Here, the idiom is used to describe the circumstance that Michelangelo died while still working on a sculpture, despite being very old. The word "basement" in this context suggests the artisan's passion for the arts and highlights the fact that he continued working in his basement studio, perhaps because he loved it so much that he couldn't imagine retiring. Therefore, "die in harness" is employed as the artist's passion for his craft continued until the very end of his life.

    • The famous dancer Martha Graham died in harness at the age of 96, conducting class as usual.

      This example depicts Martha Graham as a person who enjoyed her job so much that even at the age of 96, she continued conducting her dance classes. By doing so, she died while still working productively, and this is the exact meaning of the idiom "die in harness". The phrase "conducting class as usual" illustrates that the dancer was working intensely at her craft until the very end.

    • The famous composer Beethoven died in harness at the age of 56, as he was still working on a new symphony when he took his last breath.

      To die in harness refers to dying while still actively working or engaged in one's chosen profession. The phrase implies that the person had not yet retired or quit working. Beethoven's death in this context can be seen as a testament to his unwavering passion for music and his dedication to his craft.

    • The old workhorse of a computer, despite its age and frequent crashes, still keeps running and hasn't been replaced yet. Its users hope it will die in harness, meaning that it will continue to function until it is completely worn out or obsolete, and not suddenly break down.

      The phrase "die in harness" is an idiom that comes from the farming industry, where a harness is a strap or collar used to attach a horse to a plow or cart. In the past, farmers would work their horses until they were too old or sick to continue working. Instead of putting them out to pasture (retiring them to live a comfortable life), farmers would continue using them until they died. This practice ensured that the horse would die in harness, working to the end. Today, the phrase can be used metaphorically to describe a person, animal, or object that continues to work or function until the end, without being retired or replaced. It suggests a sense of loyalty, dedication, and reliability.


    The idiom "die in harness" is used to convey the idea of continuing to work or fulfill one's responsibilities until the very end of one's life. It can also refer to the act of passing away while still actively engaged in a task or duty. This idiom is often used to praise someone for their dedication and commitment to their work, highlighting their strong work ethic and sense of duty.

    Origin of "Die in harness"

    The origin of the idiom "die in harness" dates back to the days of horse-drawn carriages and farming. A harness is the set of straps and fittings by which a horse is fastened to a cart or plow, and it was essential for the horse to be harnessed in order to perform its duties. The idiom likely originated from the image of a hardworking horse that continues to pull a cart or plow until it dies, symbolizing dedication and perseverance in one's work.

    Over time, the idiom has been adapted to refer to human work and responsibilities, emphasizing the idea of working diligently until the very end. It is often used to praise individuals who remain committed to their duties and responsibilities throughout their lives, even in old age. Examples of usage can be found in literature and everyday conversation, highlighting the enduring nature of this idiom.