beat (one) to within an inch of (one's) life

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beat (one) to within an inch of (one's) life

To deliver a very violent and prolonged physical attack. This phrase can be used both literally and hyperbolically. Our neighbor is in the hospital because a burglar beat him to within an inch of his life. I'm worried that the captain of the football team will beat me to within an inch of my life if he finds out that I'm secretly seeing his girlfriend.
See also: beat, inch, life, of, within