Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Death’s Head on a Mopstick.

 Death’s Head.Deaths-man. 
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Death’s Head on a Mopstick.
A thin, sickly person, a mere anatomy, is so called. When practical jokes were more common it was by no means unusual to mount on a mopstick a turnip with holes for eyes, and a cand’e inside, to scare travellers at night time.   1

 Death’s Head.Deaths-man. 

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