Phrases and sayings – from Prison History Part 2

Thanks to local historian and regular Prison History contributor, Rob Keep, we have some more phrases and sayings from prison history to share:

1. Go West

Tyburn Tree, site of executions in London until 1783 (TNA WORK16/376

Tyburn was west of Newgate Prison, and prisoners taking the journey to the gallows were said to have ‘gone west’

2. Put the Kibosh on it

Mr Justice Avory putting on the black cap to pass the sentence of death on Thomas Alloway in 1922 (

Kibosh was the yiddish for black cap, used when the judge pronounced a death sentence, hence “put the kibosh on it” to end or finish.

3. Get knotted

Hangman’s rope (By David from Washington, DC – _MG_5867, CC BY 2.0,

Reference to the knot used in the hanging of felons

4. Putting you neck on the block

Execution block, Sauerland-Museum (

Risking decapitation, (also sticking your neck out)