Bought the farm
Bethany Martin
Why is a person said to have bought the farm when they have died?
Frank Pierce
I believe that the expression "to buy the farm" came out of the aviation training community, perhaps as early as WWI. I've heard pilots use it all of my life.

Fliers who really "augered in" in a spiral or spin crash and spashed themselves all over the surrounding farmland, were said to have bought the farm, perhaps because they had so much blood and such invested in it.

Others have probably picked it up as a way of describing any sudden accidental death. There should be better analogies.

Lewis Joplin II
All the references I have indicate it is a military term. But there's disagreement about how it came to be. I always thought it meant that the dead soldier's life insurance would pay off the mortage on the farm.

In the "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" there is a long passage on "bought the farm." Paraphrasing here, one idea was that when a soldier was killed in action, it was said he "bought the farm." That is, the soldier was at peace, on a heavenly version of the farm he had often daydreamed about buying when he got back home.

The other suggested origin was along the same lines. But the phrase "Well, he's bought his farm," was a wry comment on the dead soldier not getting a chance to realize his dream.

Still another theory from another source was that when a barnstormer flew into a farm and tore up the field, he had to pay the farmer.

Frank Pierce
It's hard to locate the precise origin of any near-slang expression. They just spring up like mushrooms. And perhaps soldiers did use the term, but I still have a feeling that it's aviation-orieinted because, even today, it's the almost universal way of descibing a fatal aircraft accident, particularly a crash over open country,as opposed to a landing incident.

Chuck Yeager used the term in his book "Right Stuff."

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