frightened to death

frightened to death

Very severely scared or worried. Used hyperbolically. I was frightened to death when I thought I heard footsteps on the staircase when no one else was home. We were frightened to death when we woke up to the sound of the howler monkeys. We had no idea what it was coming from. I'm frightened to death that the tests are going to come back positive.
See also: death, frighten

frightened to death

 and scared to death 
1. Lit. frightened to the point of dying. This poor animal has been frightened to death by the attacking dogs.
2. Fig. frightened or anxious. I don't want to go to the dentist today. I'm frightened to death. I'm frightened to death of spiders.
See also: death, frighten
References in classic literature ?
At any rate, Captain Nichols was frightened to death of her.
I was nearly frightened to death. Dan says he wouldn't of been scared and Felicity says she would of known what it was but it's easy to talk.
Your father will know, and then - oh, I shall be frightened to death!"
He could not find Deesa, but he disturbed all the other elephants in the lines, and nearly frightened to death some gypsies in the woods.
I couldn't help it, Dinah; it was the baby's crying made me go--and yet I was frightened to death. I thought that man in the smock-frock 'ud see me and know I put the baby there.
They had managed to obtain places in the King's service, and when they recognised Ferko with his eyes and legs sound and well they were frightened to death, for they feared he would tell the King of their conduct, and that they would be hung.
Some day you will see your own shadow, little Manu, and then you will be frightened to death."
The moment, however, that she saw her father, she collected all her spirits, and, catching him hold by the hand, she cryed passionately, "O my dear sir, I am almost frightened to death! I hope to heaven no harm hath happened to you." "No, no," cries the squire, "no great harm.
"Yes, out it came, and away ran Polly, frightened to death, and scrambled up on Aunt's chair, calling out, `Catch her!
At this momentous crisis, Miss Cheggs proved herself a vigourous and useful ally, for not confining herself to expressing by scornful smiles a contempt for Mr Swiveller's accomplishments, she took every opportunity of whispering into Miss Sophy's ear expressions of condolence and sympathy on her being worried by such a ridiculous creature, declaring that she was frightened to death lest Alick should fall upon, and beat him, in the fulness of his wrath, and entreating Miss Sophy to observe how the eyes of the said Alick gleamed with love and fury; passions, it may be observed, which being too much for his eyes rushed into his nose also, and suffused it with a crimson glow.
I was frightened to death; I never was in such a consternation in my life; I though I should have sunk into the ground; my blood ran chill in my veins, and I trembled as if I had been in a cold fit of ague.
"Oh, me too," said Penny, frightened to death at Jacob, who had begun to nod and grin at her.
Uncle and nephew have been murdered--the one frightened to death by the very sight of a beast which he thought to be supernatural, the other driven to his end in his wild flight to escape from it.
I do hope and trust I shall not see her, for I should be frightened to death lest I should say anything about her husband.
They appeared, in short, frightened to death, at least so as to sit trembling and stupid, and not able to speak either, for the smoke.
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