Badger To Death

Meaning of “Badger to Death”

The phrase “badger to death” means to harass, trouble, or persecute somebody. Most often, the phrase is used when a person is bullied, taunted emotionally, or hurt physically. It is often used for minority communities when they become the victim of majoritarianism in a democratic state.

Origin of “Badger to Death”

The phrase “badger to death” originated from the ancient brutal game of hunting badgers in the wild. The hunters used to set their hounds free when they saw a badger. The hounds are known to be aggressive dogs and used to tear the victim apart in a minute. This sport was also called badger-baiting. However, it does not mean that badger does not pose any resistance. It is a highly tenacious and tough animal and often bites its attacker. Therefore, this phrase “badger to death” has been coined where the fight gives good entertainment to people who enjoy harming others.

The first record of its printed format appeared Universal Weekly Expositor by Charles Dibdin published in 1790, where it goes: “It is always worth a manager’s while to engage a performer for three years. The first he is a drudge; the second he is a servant of all work; the third badgered to death, and at length dismissed.”

It is interesting to note that no more written record has been found despite its common usage. It has fallen to disuse following a legal ban on badger-baiting as a sport in the United Kingdom in 1835. Despite this, it is often used but not so commonly.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Badger by John Clare

The badger grunting on his woodland track
With shaggy hide and sharp nose scrowed with black
Roots in the bushes and the woods, and makes
A great high burrow in the ferns and brakes.
With nose on ground he runs an awkward pace,
And anything will beat him in the race.
The shepherd’s dog will run him to his den
Followed and hooted by the dogs and men.

Although the poet does not use the phrase directly, it shows the usage of this phrase through the life of a badger. The poet states how a badger is making its burrow while grunting but then the shepherd’s dog chases him to his death. After that, the dogs return men. This small narrative then makes the reader imagine the harassment faced by the badger.

Example #2

Badgered to Death: The People and Politics of the Badger Cull by  Dominic Dyer

The book by Dominic Dyer is good research about a badger and its killing, detailing the pro-badger bias of the BBC commentaries and documentaries. The book highlights how the policy for badger baiting has transformed over time through the intervention of veterinary associations and the British legal system. He has also stated the farming of cows has led to the facilitation of badger cull.

Example #3

The Mythology of All Races: Volume VIII. by J.C. Ferguson and M. Anesaki

So the two animals went together to the town to try their magic powers on human beings. As they came near the town, the cub fell behind and disappeared. The badger, therefore, sat down to rest near the edge of the town; by and by it saw a long procession passing over a bridge, with palanquin of a Daimyo in the center. The badger was sure that this show was an illusion wrought by the cub, and jumped at once into the midst of the procession, crying out; “Now you stupid cub! I have discovered the trick. Surrender to me!’ But the procession was a real one, and the Daimyo’s retainers beat the insolent badger to death with their staves, while the cub looked on from a safe distance.

In the above paragraph, the writer narrates the story of a clever cub and dunce badger. When they decide to go to the city, the cub hides himself when seeing a procession, while the badger does not budge. The procession is going on its way when the badger starts calling the cub. The people of the Daimyo beat the badger to death. Although these words do not show it used as an idiomatic phrase, it points to its literal meanings when readers visualize the death of the badger.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Most of the time, cultural differences lead minorities to be badgered to death in case they come up to oppose anything.”

Example #2: “Badgering to death means you are sending several members of your community to concentration camps which exist only in minds, though, sometimes these imaginary camps emerge out of nowhere.”

Example #3: My friend kept playing his favorite song in a loop all day. I felt I was being badgered to death and wanted to break his phone.

Example #4: “The corporate companies always badger their employees to death with the heavy workload.

Example #5: “If you want the bullies to stop badgering you to death, stand up and fight. Speak up and always inform what happened to your family and teachers.