- to be excessively strict about: That publisher is death on sloppily typed manuscripts.
- to be snobbish about or toward.
- to be able to cope with easily and successfully: The third baseman is death on pop flies.
- to kill, especially to murder.
- to repeat too often, to the point of becoming monotonous and boring: That theme has been done to death.
- Fox Hunting. present at the kill.
- present at the climax or conclusion of a situation.
Origin of death
British Dictionary definitions for at death's door
- to death or to the death until deadbleed to death; a fight to the death
- to death excessivelybored to death
- to kill
- to overuse (a joke, etc) so that it no longer has any effect
- present when an animal that is being hunted is caught and killed
- present at the finish or climax
Word Origin for death
Word Origin and History for at death's door
Old English deað "death, dying, cause of death," in plura, "ghosts," from Proto-Germanic *dauthaz (cf. Old Saxon doth, Old Frisian dath, Dutch dood, Old High German tod, German Tod, Old Norse dauði, Danish død, Swedish död, Gothic dauþas "death"), from verbal stem *dheu- (3) "to die" (see die (v.)) + *-thuz suffix indicating "act, process, condition."
I would not that death should take me asleep. I would not have him meerly seise me, and onely declare me to be dead, but win me, and overcome me. When I must shipwrack, I would do it in a sea, where mine impotencie might have some excuse; not in a sullen weedy lake, where I could not have so much as exercise for my swimming. [John Donne, letter to Sir Henry Goodere, Sept. 1608]
Death's-head, a symbol of mortality, is from 1590s. Death row first recorded 1940s. Death knell is attested from 1814; death penalty from 1875; death rate from 1859. Slang be death on "be very good at" is from 1839. Death wish first recorded 1896. The death-watch beetle (1660s) inhabits houses, makes a ticking noise like a watch, and was superstitiously supposed to portend death.
FEW ears have escaped the noise of the death-watch, that is, the little clickling sound heard often in many rooms, somewhat resembling that of a watch; and this is conceived to be of an evil omen or prediction of some person's death: wherein notwithstanding there is nothing of rational presage or just cause of terror unto melancholy and meticulous heads. For this noise is made by a little sheathwinged grey insect, found often in wainscot benches and wood-work in the summer. [Browne, "Vulgar Errors"]
Medicine definitions for at death's door
Science definitions for at death's door
Idioms and Phrases with at death's door (1 of 2)
at death's door
On the point of dying, very ill, as in Whenever she had a bad cold she acted as though she were at death's door. The association of death with an entry way was first made in English in the late 1300s, and the phrase itself dates from the mid-1500s. Today it is often used as an exaggeration of ill health.
Idioms and Phrases with at death's door (2 of 2)
In addition to the idioms beginning with death
- death and taxes, certain as
- death knell
- death of
- death on
- at death's door
- be the death of
- bore to death
- catch cold (one's death)
- fate worse than death
- in at the death
- kiss of death
- look like death (warmed over)
- matter of life and death
- put to death
- scare out of one's wits (to death)
- sign one's own death warrant
- thrill to pieces (to death)
- tickled pink (to death)
- to death
Also see underdead.