killed to death

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Apr 20 16:41:43 UTC 2008

At 4/20/2008 11:01 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>Actually, a blast from the past. See OED _kill_, 2c, with exx. from
>1362 and ca1400.

Interesting.  However, some of the more recent (1670 and following)
OED examples seem like intensifiers, where the writer is using the
phrase for effect.  But that hardly seems necessary in the Bullock quote.

>   Plus:
>   1858 _The British Millennial Harbinger_ XI (3rd Ser.) (Nov. 1)
> 540: Bro. Wallis gets scratched by a stray shot; and he so riddles
> his dummies, that our trans-channel friends [in Ireland] might
> pronounce them "kilt to death."
>   Google Books has two or three more of these, all seemingly Irish.

Is the Web author Irish also?  I hate to say anything negative about
the Irish, but ... Hawthorne comments about a report of an incident
in which an Irishman cut off his own head with a scythe, "we may at
least allow, that if any man could cut off his own head, it would
certainly be an Irishman."  (This may not be Hawthorne's own
conclusion, but a paraphrase from his source.)


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