death knell

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death knell

A signal of the impending end or ruin of something, especially a business, organization, or activity. Refers to the sound of a bell ringing (the knell) from a church to indicate that someone has died. The geometric expansion of the Internet and digital media has tolled the death knell for countless print-based businesses around the world.
See also: death, knell
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

death knell

Something that indicates impending failure, as in His low scores sounded the death knell for his ambitions. The noun knell, used for the ringing of a bell since at least a.d. 1000, is rarely heard today except in this figurative phrase.
See also: death, knell
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in classic literature ?
Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each new stroke with impatience and -- he knew not why -- apprehension.
Instead of focusing on manufacturing, we have turned to trading and real estate business, causing deindustrialisation which is a death knell for any economy.
The Raila-Uhuru deal has thrown NASA into a quagmire with some pundits speculating it could deal a death knell to the coalition that brings together four political parties.
"Talk about killing boxing - it's a death knell for the sport.
So, apparently, is Dan Melchior and His Broke Review, who sound a death knell with their "Garage Obituary." Look for the "Remote Control" 7" on Troubleman Records (and no, it's not a Clash cover) ...
The "GMB union believes that the decision could sound a death knell for many in the manufacturing industry.
For Small businesses, lawsuits can be a death knell. Already strapped for time, money, and resources, entrepreneurs simply can't afford the financial and emotional stress that comes with legal wrangling.
The very name sounds a death knell to many Americans.
"It used to be that going on the pink sheets was a death knell," says Sprague, because there was no place to follow and trade the stock.
They sound a death knell for theories of distant origins for the most potent cosmic rays, says Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts University in Medford, Mass.