Is there any difference between these two expressions when we are talking about a person? It seems that they have the same meaning. According to The Free Dictionary "dead and gone" means "long dead" and "dead and buried" means "dead and interred, and soon to be forgotten".

Well, a person could be long dead but not forgotten. Perhaps "dead and buried" is not used when the person is not interred anymore.

  • It looks like you answered your own question there. – Matt Apr 18 '13 at 16:45

If used of a person, both expressions mean that he or she has left the mortal coil; the difference is in how long ago. Dead and gone always means "long dead", while dead and buried could mean that the death was recent, or it could be used as a variant of dead and gone, i.e. long dead.

If used of an object or idea, dead and gone again emphasizes that it's not just gone/obsolete/archaic/out-of-fashion, but that it has been so for a long time. With dead and buried, the emphasis is on the fact that it's out-of-date, not on how long it's been so: it might not yet be forgotten, but perhaps it ought to be.

If you disapprove of an attitude, then you'd want it "dead and buried". If you've never even heard of anyone actually believing an obsolete idea, then you could call it "dead and gone".

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I'm going to disagree with The Free Dictionary and say "dead and gone" means "and departed", "and no longer with us" - it may be said without necessarily implying that death occurred a long time ago. One might say at a funeral:

Our dear sister is dead and gone - gone, we are confident, to a Better Place. So we may grieve for ourselves, but not for her.

"Dead and buried", in contrast, means "emphatically dead", "dead as a doornail", "dead without hope of revival". It may be said not only of persons but of matters which have "lived" only figuratively:

It's not just a rumor. General Casales is definitely dead and buried.
With today's Senate vote the hope for electoral reform is dead - dead and buried.
Sartorius' evidence explodes the Kort-Vining theory, which now may be deemed dead and buried.

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  • ...deleted now-irrelevant comments... – Martha May 13 '13 at 19:53

The phrases are generally used metaphorically, though of course they can be used literally to refer to a person. In that case, I think the only difference of note between the two phrases is that not everyone is buried when they die. If someone is cremated, for example, or given some other sort of service when they die, then you cannot refer to them as "dead and buried" as they have not been buried. "Dead and gone" would apply whether or not the person was buried, however. In all other aspects the two phrases are the same.

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