kiss of death

noun phrase

: 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 deathAlan Tonelson

Examples of kiss of death in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There was a time when scandal, the whiff of scandal, or even a simple gaffe was the kiss of death for a presidential candidacy. ABC News, 3 Sep. 2023 But making deposits, rather than buying stock, was a kiss of death, instantly producing a junk credit ranking. Laurence Kotlikoff, Forbes, 18 Apr. 2023 That, to me, was the kiss of death. Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 12 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'kiss of death.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1943, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of kiss of death was in 1943

Dictionary Entries Near kiss of death

Cite this Entry

“Kiss of death.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

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