scared silly/stiff/to death, to be

(redirected from be scared stiff)

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 classic literature ?
"The Chiss is cowardly, I'm sure, and if it ever heard my awful, terrible, frightful growl, it would be scared stiff."
"If I was walking my dog late at night and someone jumped out I would be scared stiff.
Michelle's sister Sharon said: "She would see him in town and be scared stiff."
Cardiff striker Kenny Miller dismissed Freedman's jibes saying: "The lads won't be scared stiff at all.
"I think the Government must be scared stiff by what they have unleashed."
But if I were a child, I'd be scared stiff of Rasputin - a rotting corpse whose eyeballs and hands keep falling off.
If you took the headlamp bulbs out of their cars and asked them to drive as quickly as possible along a dark road they'd be scared stiff. Anything could be up ahead.
'I used to be scared stiff of St Augustine's Cemetery in Penarth.
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