What Does The Die is Cast Mean?

The Die is Cast Meaning

Definition: The act is done; the action is irreversible.

People often use this expression to emphasize that what is done is done, and nothing can change what has already started.

Origin of The Die is Cast

This expression became popular from its Latin form, Alea iacta est. A Roman historian, Suetonius, attributed this quote to Julius Caesar in the year 49 B.C.

According to Suetonius, Caesar said this sentence as he entered Italy with his army. As a result of the invasion, he stated a civil war.

When he said the die is cast, he meant that it was too late to stop the war from beginning at that point. He had already disobeyed orders, and he must win the war if he wanted to keep his life.

Nowadays, people use it as a synonym for past the point of no return.

Examples of The Die is Cast

the die is cast meaning Here is an example of two family members using the expression while at home.

Grandmother: Our Thanksgiving meal is almost finished!

Granddaughter: You didn’t make turkey, did you? Didn’t you remember that I’m allergic to turkey?

Grandmother: You’re not allergic to turkey. You just don’t like the taste. Anyway, if you wanted something different, you should have told me earlier or helped prepare something different. Dinner is in five minutes, so the die has been cast. There’s no way to change the meal now.

when the die is cast The second dialogue shows a daughter explaining why she thinks her entire life is doomed.

Father: Why are you upset?

Daughter: I failed my biology test. Now I can never be a doctor.

Father: It’s just one bad grade. You got A’s on all your other tests and assignments. This grade should have a small or completely insignificant impact on your ability to get into a good university and eventually become a doctor.

Daughter: No, I made the decision to get more sleep and study less, and this is the result. The die is cast. Nothing can change the outcome of my poor decision.

More Examples

This excerpt is about a public-private partnership.

  • For Detroit, the die is cast. As a result of its Chapter 9 filing, the Motor City will have to sell some of its non-core assets to cover $18 billion in liabilities. –Reuter

This excerpt is about a baseball player who hasn’t had much luck.

  • Maybe a contender will lose an outfielder to injury this month and liberate Bruce, via a waivers trade, from meaningless September games at Citi Field. Regardless, the die is cast for him, his strong 2017 performance notwithstanding, when he hits the open market this winter. –New York Post


The phrase the die is cast means events are already in motion and cannot be stopped.