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The meaning and origin of the expression: The die has been cast

The die has been cast

What's the meaning of the phrase 'The die has been cast'?

'The die has been cast' means that an irrevocable choice has been made.

What's the origin of the phrase 'The die has been cast'?

The die has been cast.This expression has nothing to do with the modern-day process of die-casting of metal - the die here is the singular of dice. So, 'the die has been cast' is synonymous with 'the dice have been rolled'.

Julius Caesar is supposed to have spoken this phrase when crossing the Rubicon. Such stories are difficult to verify at this long remove and, of course, Caesar wouldn't have uttered the expression in English. The earliest English version of the phrase doesn't refer back to Roman history, so we have to take the above story with a pinch of salt.

The earliest citation of the phrase that I can find is in Sir Thomas Herbert, A relation of some yeares travaile begunne anno 1626, into Afrique and the Greater Asia, 1634:

"Aiijb, is the die cast, must at this one throw all thou hast gaind be lost?"

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

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