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toll the death knell
To cause or signal the impending end or ruin of something, especially a business, organization, or activity. Refers to the sound of a bell ringing (the knell) from a church to indicate that someone has died. The geometric expansion of the Internet and digital media has tolled the death knell for countless print-based businesses around the world.
The number of deaths that have occurred after some major deadly event, such as an accident, act of violence, or natural disaster. The death toll of the conflict between the two countries is well over 2,000 people as of this morning.
take a/its toll
To have a cumulative negative effect on someone or something. Based on all this water damage, it seems that leak really took a toll on our ceiling tiles. All those late nights working on my term paper really took a toll on me—I need about 24 hours' sleep to recover.
take a toll (on someone or something)
To cause damage or deleterious effects gradually or through constant action or use. The inclement weather in these parts really takes a toll on the exteriors of the buildings. She just doesn't have her usual quickness. It seems like the long season has taken a toll. Years of smoking and drinking has taken a toll on her health.
take (quite) a toll (on someone or something)
to cause damage or wear by using something or by hard living. Years of sunbathing took a toll on Mary's skin. Drug abuse takes quite a toll on the lives of people.
toll for someone
[for a bell] to ring for someone. Who are the bells tolling for? The bells are tolling for Mr. Green, who died last night.
See also: toll
take its toll
Be damaging or harmful, cause loss or destruction, as in The civil war has taken its toll on both sides, or The heavy truck traffic has taken its toll on the highways. This expression transfers the taking of toll, a tribute or tax, to exacting other costs. [Late 1800s]
take its toll
If a problem or a difficult situation takes its toll, it causes unpleasant effects. The bad weather was soon taking its toll on most of the crew members. The separation from Harry was beginning to take its toll.