What Does the Phrase “Going To Pot” Mean and How Did the Expression For Something Deteriorating Originate?

If a relationship or a career is going to pot, it means its glory days are over.

The expression originated in 1542, long before refrigeration, and came from the urgency to save leftovers from a substantial meal before they went bad.

As a metaphor, “going to pot” means that like the leftovers from a great meal, circumstances now assign the subject to something more humble, like a stew.