deadly vs. killer

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 12 06:31:23 UTC 2013

On Fri, Jan 11, 2013 at 3:31 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: deadly vs. killer
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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".
> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

This thread is deadly, but the topic is killer.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society -

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