Ask AC
Get Rich or Die Trying

Dear AC,

I would like to ask about the meaning of these words from movie, I guess, 'give it or die trying'.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thank you
Thai


Dear Thai,

I suspect the phrase you're looking for is "get rich or die trying," which has most recently found fame as the title of a 2005 movie starring rapper 50 Cent. It means that a person is so dedicated to the goal of making a lot of money that they will never stop trying until they succeed, even if it means they might die.

I couldn't find an exact date for the introduction of the saying, but it was used long before 50 Cent's movie--and you can use "or die trying" in many other contexts. For example, Michael Scofield, a character on the television show Prison Break, said, "I'm gonna break this guy out of here, or I'm gonna die trying." In 2007, tennis star Serena Williams told reporters she wanted to win against Daniela Hantuchova "or die trying" at Wimbledon.

As you can see from the examples, the phrase can be used literally or figuratively. Williams does not really expect to die on the tennis court, but Scofield is risking his life trying to help someone escape from prison. That is also the case in 50 Cent's film, in which rival drug dealers and rappers try to kill him as he becomes more successful.

Another example, from a 2004 story in the Daily Star (UK), gives a humorous spin to the idea that the goal may cause death. The subject is "the world's hottest curry," served at a restaurant called Rupali in Newcastle. Restaurant owner Abdul Latif gives the meal for free to customers who can finish it. However, he jokingly explains, "if you die trying, I expect someone else to pick up the bill."

Your pal,

A. C. Kemp

July 2, 2009

 

PAST COLUMNS Get Rich or Die Trying * Big Girl Panties * Does the Carpet Match the Curtains? * The Shocker * Double Clicking the Mouse * Nice Ride! * Bulldagger * Where's the Beef? * Scissor Sisters * Skeet! Skeet! Skeet! * Headsprung * Get Your Eagle On * On the Down Low *Pie Wagon *Tweakers *Tossed Salad * Milkshake * Chode * Does God Use Slang? * Frontin' & Trippin' *Get Crunk! * 818 * What's a Home Run? * Cracker * Sell the Sizzle and not the Steak * Hair of the Dog * Balling the Jack * That Sucks! * What's Gaslighting? * My Boyfriend Called Me a Bitch * Help! I Can't Understand Friends * Glocks & Gats * Should I Get my Freak on? * About Drag Queens * Queef Problems * The Cat's Meow * Fongool *
Got a question for AC? Click here!