number is up, one's

Idioms & Phrases

number is up, one's

One is in grave difficulty or near death. For example, She knew her number was up when she saw the look on her supervisor's face, or He looks terrible; I think his number's up. In the earliest use of this phrase, in the early 1800s, number referred to an unfavorable lottery number, but in other citations it could be any number whereby one is identified, such as the number on a military dog tag.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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