grim

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hang on like grim death

To clutch something very tightly, usually to prevent one from falling. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. After the ladder tipped over, I hung on like grim death so that I didn't fall off the roof.
See also: death, grim, hang, like, on

paint a (some kind of) picture of (something)

To give an elaborate or detailed description of something that portrays it in a specific way. The board meeting painted a pretty grim picture of the company's future. Jonathan always paints an idyllic picture of our childhood, glossing over the bad memories we had of our father.
See also: kind, of, paint, picture

Grim Reaper

Death, as personified by a cloaked, scythe-wielding man or skeleton. She's been in three really terrible car accidents but has miraculously avoided the Grim Reaper.
See also: grim, reaper

grim reaper

Fig. death. I think I have a few years to go yet before the grim reaper pays me a call.
See also: grim, reaper

like grim death

mainly BRITISH
If you hold onto something like grim death, you hold onto it very tightly. I clung to the chain like grim death.
See also: death, grim, like

the Grim Reaper

The Grim Reaper is an imaginary character who represents death. He looks like a skeleton, wears a long, black cloak with a hood, and carries a scythe (= tool for cutting grass). By giving away assets while still alive, inheritance tax can be avoided entirely by the time the Grim Reaper calls. They were sitting around, waiting for the Grim Reaper.
See also: grim, reaper

like (or for) grim death

with intense determination.
1989 Jonathan Gash Jade Woman Here and there a greenish scumble of vegetation hung on for grim death.
See also: death, grim, like

the Grim Reaper

a personification of death in the form of a cloaked skeleton wielding a large scythe.
See also: grim, reaper

hang on/hold on (to somebody/something) like grim ˈdeath

hold somebody/something very tightly, usually because you are afraid or determined not to let go: As the horse galloped off, you could see poor Sarah hanging on like grim death.The robbers tried to steal my bag, but I held on to it like grim death.
The word grim (= very serious or unpleasant) is often used to describe death.
See also: death, grim, hang, hold, like, on
References in classic literature ?
challenged the old man entering grimly into the spirit of the play.
Marilla, looking old and worn and tired, got up and marched Davy grimly out of the kitchen.
But her sister set her mouth grimly and shook her head.
He turned his face to the wall as if resolved to grimly bide his time.
I'll settle Miss Anne when she comes home," said Marilla grimly, as she shaved up kindlings with a carving knife and with more vim than was strictly necessary.
He had left us grimly determined to confess to his father the dark secret of his Presbyterianism, and we were anxious to know what the result had been.
Her lips were set grimly together, and she carried a small suit-case.
The man's lips were threatening to smile, but the scowl above them was still trying to hold them grimly stern.
But with horse and jockey none the worse for the spill, the 12-1 chance grimly held off the challenge of Look Again.
As snuff films and ``bug-chasing'' erotic parties grimly testify, the last rung on the cultural ladder that leads to oblivion is a preoccupation with death - a desperate fascination born of the belief that only a random biological fluke distinguishes a living soul from a corpse.
Sheltered by a mattress, the elderly man hangs grimly on to palm trees in a bid to avoid being dragged into the swirling water.
Tranmere looked to be cruising but had to hang on grimly after David Reeves pulled a goal back in the 78th minute.
SHANE Warne grabbed his first five-wicket haul of the season and then helped Hampshire grimly hang on for a draw against Leicestershire at Grace Road.
But Alloa held on grimly for the point which, with their two games in hand on the leaders, still leaves them a slim chance of title glory.
Like Pact Ballet and the Playhouse Dance Company, Capab is planning budgets and programs for forthcoming seasons, grimly hoping it will have a role in the new artistic order.