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The example sentences in WWWJDIC all use the word "首" in the "fire" sense (e.g. 彼を首にしてやる) hence I was wondering is the term only used to refer to "firing" someone?

Or is it also used to refer to students who have just graduated and not yet found a job (they have never had a job before so they can't be fired can they)?

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Can you explain why you would think that it had another meaning? – Amanda S Aug 25 '11 at 0:40
@Amanda well the link (in the question) writes: (3) unemployed person aka. without a job which had nothing to do with "firing". However the example sentences all have that nuance, hence the clash in meaning and need for clarification. – Pacerier Aug 25 '11 at 4:50
up vote 5 down vote accepted

No, you can't use 首 to refer to students who have just graduated and don't have a job yet.

Pardon me if I am incorrect here, but I think maybe you think that "首にする" means "turn (someone) into a 首", and so 首 is an idiom for "unemployed person" or something. [Edit: My apologies, it looks like you were just taking the word of EDICT, which (wrongly, I think) makes exactly this claim.] This is not the case, though. "首にする" ultimately comes from the metaphor of beheading (!) and although it can be extended to other forms (もう首だろう etc.), it only refers to the act of firing/being fired, not to the result (being unemployed). So, it is not relevant to recent graduates... or any unemployed person, actually, except insofar as you can talk about their past: "She was fired in May," etc.)

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Someone needs to update EDICT then. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Aug 25 '11 at 2:37
Clearly! Unless it's some hip new street jive that hasn't trickled down to me yet. My money's on an error in EDICT though. – Matt Aug 25 '11 at 3:12
@Matt heys thanks for the clarification =P I think a new tag "EDICT-errors" would be useful lol – Pacerier Aug 25 '11 at 4:52
To the gallows! – syockit Aug 25 '11 at 6:12

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