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Can’t Do Something to Save My Life: Origin and Meaning

If you say that you can’t do something to save your life, you mean that you absolutely cannot do that thing.
can't do something to save my life In the 1800s, there was a very successful and respected English writer called Anthony Trollope. Trollope first used this expression with slightly different wording in a book called The Kellys and the O’Kellys (1948):

“If it was to save my life and theirs, I can’t get up small talk for the rector and his curate.”
“I hope David doesn’t take me to a nightclub tonight. I can’t dance to save my life!”

“That meal was delicious but I’m sure Jenny bought it from the supermarket – she can’t cook to save her life!”

Seth: “Do you like karaoke?”
Zack: “I love watching other people but I can’t sing to save my life!”
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