scared to death

F - S

scared to death,
also, frightened to death


  • to be extremely afraid or frightened.
  • It alludes to being so scared of something that you can die from it.
  • being made very alarmed or fearful of a situation.

Example Sentences

  1. A shadow appeared in the doorway and scared me to death.
  2. I was scared to death when I thought I heard footsteps in the house when no one was around.
  3. My sister is scared to death that her colleagues will not like her, but I know they will.
  4. I was frightened to death when I heard the doctor call for surgery, but fortunately, the prognosis was excellent.
  5. My aunt was scared to death watching my niece compete in gymnastics. They thought she was going to break her legs.
  6. Traveling is fantastic. But aren’t you frightened to death by the turbulence of the plane when it’s taking off?


The phrase is thought to have originated from ancient beliefs and superstitions surrounding death and fear. The concept of being “scared to death” likely has roots in folklore and mythology, where fear was often associated with mortality and the supernatural. In many cultures, there are stories of people who are said to have died from fright or extreme terror. The earliest documented use of the phrase “scared to death” in English literature dates back to the 17th century.

Scared to death is more than an expression proven true on December 27, 2001. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, proved that, indeed, people could be scared to death. So besides being fiction, it can be fact as well.

This idiom gained immense popularity following the publication of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” In the story, Sir Charles Baskervilles dies from a heart attack caused by too much psychological stress.

Scared to death is an emotional reaction that can be positive or negative. When it happens, it causes a surge of autonomic activity, meaning the brain releases chemicals called adrenaline, which can be good but can also cause harm.


  • scared stiff
  • panic-stricken

Share your opinions1 Opinion

I once saw an old piece of film in which a parachute didn’t open, and the commentator said that the man knew that he was going to die, so his brain shut off, and the man was meant to have died of cardiac arrest, but I think that he was still alive because he was kicking his legs all the way down, so I believe he just used the footage as an example to describe the situation that he was scared to death. It was on a video called Faces of Death. So yeah, I do believe that it could happen that way.

‒ Patrick Mitchell March 27, 2024

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