Your days are numbered


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Your days are numbered'?

You are likely to die soon.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Your days are numbered'?

If ever a phrase sounded biblical in origin it is this one and, surely, if not the Bible then Shakespeare. In fact, it is neither. The first person known to have written down the expression ‘our days are numbered’ was the English country gentleman Reginald Scot, in his expose of witchcraft The Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584:

Mans body also is subject unto death, and hath his daies numbred.

The phrase, although it doesn’t appear in The Bible, has Christian antecedants. Many early texts refer to the notion the God has predetermined and numbered various elements of people’s lives. One’s steps, breaths and ‘all things’ are all described as numbered by God in many medieval sources.

Trend of your days are numbered in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.