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Kick the Bucket

(To). A bucket is a pulley, and in Norfolk a beam. When pigs are killed, they are hung by their hind-legs on a bucket or beam, with their heads downwards, and oxen are hauled up by a pulley. To kick the bucket is to be hung on the balk or bucket by the heels.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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