kill with kindness, to overdo in one's efforts to be kind: The aunts would kill their nephews and nieces with kindness.

Origin of kill

1175–1225; Middle English cullen, killen to strike, beat, kill, Old English *cyllan; cognate with dialectal German küllen (Westphalian). See quell
Related formskill·a·ble, adjectiveself-killed, adjectiveun·killed, adjective
Can be confusedkill kiln

Synonym study

1. Kill, execute, murder all mean to deprive of life. Kill is the general word, with no implication of the manner of killing, the agent or cause, or the nature of what is killed (whether human being, animal, or plant): to kill a person. Execute is used with reference to the putting to death of one in accordance with a legal sentence, no matter what the means are: to execute a criminal. Murder is used of killing a human being unlawfully: He murdered him for his money. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for kill with kindness

humor, pamper, oblige, cosset, accommodate, favor, mollycoddle, overindulge, coddle, spoon-feed

British Dictionary definitions for kill with kindness



verb (mainly tr)

(also intr; when tr, sometimes foll by off) to cause the death of (a person or animal)
to put an end to; destroyto kill someone's interest
to make (time) pass quickly, esp while waiting for something
to deaden (sound)
informal to tire out; exhaustthe effort killed him
informal to cause to suffer pain or discomfortmy shoes are killing me
informal to cancel, cut, or deleteto kill three lines of text
informal to quash, defeat, or vetothe bill was killed in the House of Lords
informal to switch off; stopto kill a motor
(also intr) informal to overcome with attraction, laughter, surprise, etcshe was dressed to kill; his gags kill me
slang to consume (alcoholic drink) entirelyhe killed three bottles of rum
sport to hit (a ball) so hard or so accurately that the opponent cannot return it
soccer to bring (a moving ball) under control; trap
kill oneself informal to overexert oneselfdon't kill yourself
kill two birds with one stone to achieve two results with one action


the act of causing death, esp at the end of a hunt, bullfight, etc
the animal or animals killed during a hunt
NZ the seasonal tally of stock slaughtered at a freezing works
the destruction of a battleship, tank, etc
in at the kill present at the end or climax of some undertaking

Word Origin for kill

C13 cullen; perhaps related to Old English cwellan to kill; compare German (Westphalian dialect) küllen; see quell




US a channel, stream, or river (chiefly as part of place names)

Word Origin for kill

C17: from Middle Dutch kille; compare Old Norse kīll small bay, creek
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for kill with kindness



c.1200, "to strike, hit, beat, knock;" c.1300, "to deprive of life," perhaps from an unrecorded variant of Old English cwellan "to kill" (see quell), but the earliest sense suggests otherwise. Sense in to kill time is from 1728. Related: Killed; killing. Kill-devil, colloquial for "rum," especially if new or of bad quality, is from 1630s.



"stream," 1630s, American English, from Dutch kil, from Middle Dutch kille "riverbed," especially in place names (e.g. Schuylkill). A common Germanic word, the Old Norse form, kill, meant "bay, gulf" and gave its name to Kiel Fjord on the German Baltic coast and thence to Kiel, the port city founded there in 1240.



early 13c., "a stroke, a blow," from kill (v.). Meaning "act of killing" is from 1814; that of "a killed animal" is from 1878. Lawn tennis serve sense is from 1903. The kill "the knockout" is boxing jargon, 1950.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with kill with kindness

kill with kindness

Overwhelm or harm someone with mistaken or excessive benevolence. For example, Aunt Mary constantly sends Jane chocolates and cake and other goodies, even though she's been told Jane's on a diet—nothing like killing with kindness. This expression originated as kill with kindness as fond apes do their young (presumably crushing them to death in a hug) and was a proverb by the mid-1500s.


In addition to the idioms beginning with kill

  • kill off
  • kill or cure
  • kill the fatted calf
  • kill the goose that lays the golden eggs
  • kill time
  • kill two birds with one stone
  • kill with kindness

also see:

  • curiosity killed the cat
  • dressed to kill
  • fit to kill
  • in at the death (kill)
  • make a killing
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.