frighten (one) to death

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frighten (one) to death

To shock or frighten one very suddenly and severely. Hyperbolically alludes to frightening someone so badly as to cause them to die. Don't sneak up on me like that, you frightened me to death! That car accident seems to have frightened Janet to death—she's still shaken by it. Waking up to the sound of the howler monkeys nearly frightened us to death. We had no idea what we were hearing.
See also: death, frighten, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

frighten (someone or an animal) to death

 and scare someone or an animal to death
1. Lit. to frighten a living creature badly enough to cause death. The roar of the plane engine seems to have frightened the little dog to death.
2. Fig. to frighten someone severely. The dentist always frightens me to death. She scared me to death when she screamed.
See also: death, frighten, to
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in classic literature ?
For that matter, anyone who was a comrade of the captain's was enough to frighten them to death. And the short and the long of the matter was, that while we could get several who were willing enough to ride to Dr.
"For us to more or less frighten them to death in that tunnel we were 1-0 up anyway.
He said: "We're not going to go into the details of Manchester City with our lads - it would frighten them to death.
Besides, the cheap shot about it being fear of the nets' own pending obsolescence may frighten them to death.
Whoever Real play at the back - and if you are punting Arsenal you'll be praying Jonathan Woodgate gets a game - Henry has the pace to frighten them to death. This is the shop window he has been waiting for and, as has happened a lot in the last season-and-a-half, a Henry masterclass often works wonders for Arsenal on the road in Europe.
The first is that we take no further action, which is really going to frighten them to death.
If the bombing is precise, and Wales musn't overdo the tactic, then they could frighten them to death.
Defeat today and it will have turned into a disaster, and believe me, the thought of going into the InterToto Cup this summer will frighten them to death.
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