walk the plank

Idioms & Phrases

walk the plank

Be forced to resign, as in We were sure that Ted hadn't left of his own accord; he'd walked the plank. This metaphoric idiom alludes to a form of execution used in the 17th century, mainly by pirates, whereby a victim was forced to walk off the end of a board placed on the edge of the ship's deck and so drown. [Second half of 1800s]

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