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Death, as personified by a cloaked man or skeleton carrying a scythe. She's been in three really terrible car accidents but has miraculously avoided the Grim Reaper.
hang on like grim death
To clutch something very tightly, usually to avoid falling. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. After the ladder tipped over, I hung on like grim death so that I didn't fall off the roof.
hang on to (someone or something) like grim death
To clutch someone or something very tightly, usually to avoid falling. After the ladder tipped over, I hung on to the roof like grim death so that I didn't fall.
hold on to (someone or something) like grim death
To clutch someone or something very tightly, usually to avoid falling. After the ladder tipped over, I held on to the roof like grim death so that I didn't fall.
like grim death
With a very tight, intense, and determined grip. After the ladder tipped over, I hung onto the edge of the roof like grim death. Even on the sheerest of cliff faces, there are still small animals and bits of vegetation clung like grim death.
paint a (some kind of) picture of (something)
To give an elaborate or detailed description of something that portrays it in a specific way. The board meeting painted a pretty grim picture of the company's future. Jonathan always paints an idyllic picture of our childhood, glossing over the bad memories of our father.
Fig. death. I think I have a few years to go yet before the grim reaper pays me a call.
like grim deathmainly BRITISH
If you hold onto something like grim death, you hold onto it very tightly. I clung to the chain like grim death.
the Grim Reaper
The Grim Reaper is an imaginary character who represents death. He looks like a skeleton, wears a long, black cloak with a hood, and carries a scythe (= tool for cutting grass). By giving away assets while still alive, inheritance tax can be avoided entirely by the time the Grim Reaper calls. They were sitting around, waiting for the Grim Reaper.
like (or for) grim deathwith intense determination.
1989 Jonathan Gash Jade Woman Here and there a greenish scumble of vegetation hung on for grim death.
the Grim Reapera personification of death in the form of a cloaked skeleton wielding a large scythe.
hang on/hold on (to somebody/something) like grim ˈdeathhold somebody/something very tightly, usually because you are afraid or determined not to let go: As the horse galloped off, you could see poor Sarah hanging on like grim death. ♢ The robbers tried to steal my bag, but I held on to it like grim death.
The word grim (= very serious or unpleasant) is often used to describe death.
grim reaper, the
Death. This expression is actually a combination of the older grim death, which dates from about 1600, and the artistic depiction of death with a scythe, which began somewhat later. The first appeared in a play by Philip Massinger (1583–1640), The Roman Actor, and also in John Milton’s Paradise Lost (“Before mine eyes in opposition sits Grim Death, my son and foe”). The second appeared in a song from “Des Knaben Wunderhorn” and in Longfellow’s poem, “The Reaper and the Flowers” (“There is a Reaper whose name is Death, and, with his sickle keen”), as well as in earlier but more obscure sources.
See also: grim