make a dead man turn roll over

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hong nam yang

Senior Member
Korean
Somebody said, "A mysterious robbery that took place in Bong Hwa Village would make a dead man roll over in his grave." Here, 'make a dead man roll over' is used to describe a 'very strange' sutuation.
But my understanding is if you say that a dead person would turn in their grave, you mean that they would be very angry or upset about something if they knew. (e.g. She'd turn in her grave if she knew what he was spending his inheritance on.) Is it common to use the expression "make a dead man roll over" to describe the situation which is inexplicably strange?
 
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  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Is it common to use the expression "make a dead man roll over" to describe the situation which is inexplicably strange? Whoever wrote that was not a native speaker. It is more than 'uncommon' - it is never said.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    "_________ is rolling over in his grave" or "____________ is turning in his grave" is a common expression, but it usually refers to a specific person. It is used to refer to something which would have shocked or upset the dead person.

    Did you see that awful tatoo Jennifer got? Her grandmother must be rolling over in her grave!

     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Thanks, RM1(SS).
    I had in mind what Sparky had said; my primary concern was the wording 'make ____ turn/roll over in his grave' (he changed it in his post to "_________ is turning/rolling over in his grave"). This is most probably obvious to a native English speaker, but might be very different for English students.

    :idea: I've also seen this expression used with the verb 'spin', which I believe is more typical of American English.
     
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    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Rolling over and turning over are interchangeable in this context (rolling is more common); "spinning" just adds emphasis, as rolling faster and faster = spinning. It always suggests that a particular person, who is dead, would be shocked, if he or she were still alive, by whatever is under discussion.
     
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