idiom: for someone’s days to be numbered

This week’s idiom is another interesting one. It is for someone’s “days to be numbered”. It means that the person’s life in a certain situation will not last forever and will probably end soon. For example:

My co-worker is extremely incompetent, so I think his days are numbered at our company.

There are many rumors of layoffs at my company. I was hired only a year ago, so I think my days are numbered there.

I think the fax machine’s days are numbered. Pretty soon everyone will just send information by computer.

Mr. Henrick’s days as our Prime Minister are numbered. He’s so unpopular; there is no way he’ll win the next election.

I’m afraid my days are numbered. I just found out that I’m dying.

So we often use it when talking about how long someone will stay at a certain company, as in the first two examples. In the first sentence, it means that the co-worker will probably soon be fired; in the second sentence, it means that I will probably be laid off soon.

In the third example, the expression means that the fax machine will no longer be used because it’s becoming outdated.

In the fourth example, it means that the unpopular prime minister will soon be out of office because there will be an election soon.

Finally, in the fifth example, it means that the person will die soon. This is obviously a more serious situation in which to use this expression. Therefore, we could use it about ourselves, as in “My days are numbered.”, but it would be very insensitive to use it about other people. However, you might hear something like that in a movie. For example, if a gangster plans to kill someone, he might say, “Your days are numbered!”

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