frighten to death

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. © 2015 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 periodicals archive ?
The spirit of a murdered teenager was on hand to frighten to death anyone who watched a cursed video cassette in this terrifying Japanese chiller.
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