deadly vs. killer

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jan 11 20:31:37 UTC 2013

On Jan 11, 2013, at 3:20 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> At 1/11/2013 01:11 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> Yes, my intuition is that "deadly" is for things like poison that
>> will get you dead if you don't manage to avoid them, but "killer" is
>> for things that chase you down and make you dead.  Whence "killer
>> bees" as well as "killer whales".  This is why there are
>> significantly more hits for "killer tornado(es)" than "killer
>> earthquake(s)", and why "deadly curve" sounds more natural to me
>> than "killer curve", although they're both attested.  Or "deadly
>> pileup" ("about 16,000")  vs. "killer pileup" (15 actual g-hits,
>> with duplication).
>> YMMV.
> So a tornado can chase someone (getting back at the
> tornado-chasers?), but a pileup can't (even though it could be caused
> by a chasing -- such as speeding -- vehicle)?
> Joel
Exactly--as I said, YMMV, but that's how my mileage works.  Also "deadly accident/crash" vs. #"killer accident/crash".


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