scared silly/stiff/to death, to be

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scared silly/stiff/to death, to be

To be extremely frightened; panicstricken. The earliest version of such hyperbolic expressions seems to have been to be scared or frightened out of one’s wits, which appeared in print in 1697: “Distracted and frighted out of his wits” (Bishop Simon Patrick, Commentary). Later it was frightened or scared out of one’s seven senses (used by Jonathan Swift and Sir Walter Scott), still later replaced by silly, with the same meaning. Stiff alludes to paralysis by fright, death to dying of terror. A mid-twentieth-century equivalent is to scare the pants off someone (Ogden Nash, and others). Also see shake in one's shoes.
See also: scare, silly, stiff
References in periodicals archive ?
Kids who love to be scared silly will love Carisbrooke Castle's Spooky Castle event (October 26-November 3) with the chance to take part in a gruesome graveyard game, create terrifying decorations in the creepy craft area, and explore the castle with a real ghost hunter.
"We must not be scared silly as they will crush us.
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