Drop Dead

Meaning of Idiom ‘Drop Dead’

1. Drop dead is used as an expression of intense anger, dislike, hatred, or rejection; go away; stop bothering me; I don’t want to see you anymore. 1Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.,2Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,3Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.

2. Drop-dead, as an adjective, is used as an intensifier meaning “awe-inspiring” or “amazingly.” 4Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,5Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.

Usage

Although this idiom seems to be intended to wish sudden death on a person, it is not to be taken literally as it is usually exaggerated. It is often used even among friends when arguments become heated. The adjective drop-dead, as in “drop-dead” gorgeous is not insulting at all and is not related to this idiom.

Examples Of Use

“I can’t believe you went out with my ex-boyfriend. Drop dead!”

“Well, I didn’t get an investment today. The man basically told me to drop dead.”

“You think I’m going to put up with this kind of abuse? You can drop dead.”

“John’s sister is drop-dead gorgeous but he’s forbidden me to ask her out. Apparently, I’m not good enough for her.”

Origin

As an angry retort, this idiom has been used since the 1930s. The second use as an originated as slang in the 1960s. 6Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
2. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
3, 5. Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.
4, 6. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.