more dead than alive

more dead than alive

Fig. exhausted; in very bad condition; near death. (Almost always an exaggeration.) We arrived at the top of the mountain more dead than alive. The marathon runners stumbled one by one over the finish line, more dead than alive.
See also: alive, dead, more

more dead than alive

Exhausted, in poor condition, as in By the time I got off that mountain I was more dead than alive. This idiom may be used either hyperbolically or literally. [c. 1900]
See also: alive, dead, more
References in classic literature ?
In time my eyes gradually shut up; and, from seeming to hear the clergyman singing a drowsy song in the heat, I hear nothing, until I fall off the seat with a crash, and am taken out, more dead than alive, by Peggotty.