Learn English Online - Idiomatic Expressions

Definition of Idiomatic Expressions


What does nothing is certain but death and taxes mean?

Meaning of idioms with examples...

nothing is certain but death and taxes


The phrase nothing is certain but death and taxes means that everything in life is uncertain. The only things that you can be sure of are:
1. You will undoubtedly die.
2. You will certainly have to pay taxes.


This saying comes from the letters of Benjamin Franklin where he states:
Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789

However, Franklin's letter is not the origin of the phrase; it appeared earlier in Daniel Defoe's The History of the Devil:
Things as certain as Death and Taxes, can be more firmly believ'd.
Daniel Defoe The Political History of the Devil 1726.


Lacy: I can't believe how much tax money I have to pay for starting this business.
Alice: You know, nothing is certain but death and taxes.

This idiom is in the death category

More idioms