kiss of death

noun phrase

Definition of kiss of death 

: something (such as an act or association) ultimately causing ruin The movie has a G rating, which is almost a kiss of death. Last year, fewer than 2% of new films were rated G, and nearly all of those were animated.Sports Illustrated usually used with the Not long ago, when I proposed to my agent that she champion a book of mine as a work of literature instead of trying to present it as a "Sixties memoir," she told me, with a rueful laugh, that in publishing circles nowadays the "L" word is the kiss of death.— Joel Agee… a faraway region whose populations are so deeply anti-Western that any government cooperation with America can be the kiss of death— Alan Tonelson

First Known Use of kiss of death

1943, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kiss of death

from the kiss with which Judas betrayed Jesus (Mark 14:44–46)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about kiss of death

Share kiss of death

Statistics for kiss of death

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for kiss of death

The first known use of kiss of death was in 1943

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on kiss of death

See words that rhyme with kiss of death

Comments on kiss of death

What made you want to look up kiss of death? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!