Posted by Masakim on October 31, 2001
In Reply to: Death warmed over posted by James Briggs on October 31, 2001
: : : Huh?
: : : "He looked like death itself" I could understand. "Death warmed over" doesn't sound so bad. Since you're supposed to be insulting someone, warming him over sounds like a compliment, and so not what you're getting at.
: : Here's my hypothesis: "Warmed over" refers to the preparation of leftover food to serve again. Leftovers are less desirable than food just now cooked, and the warming process can damage them further. They get overcooked, dry, limp where you want crispy, stiff where you want soft, charred around the edges. Sauces separate. Flavor vanishes. So "warmed over" is an intensifier: Not only did he look awful, he didn't even look fresh. (Not necessarily an insult; for instance, may be said sympathetically of someone who's ill or exhausted.)
: It's 'death warmed up' in the UK
Death Warmed Over (Up), Like. Looking ill or exhausted. The suggestion
is that you look only slightly better than if you were dead. The
phrase appeared in the _Soldier's War Slang Dictionary in 1939).
In _Death and the Dancing Footman_ , Ngaio Marsh wrote: "I
look like death warmed up and what I feel is nobody's business."
From The Dictionary of Cliches_ by James Rogers.
You're too old for staying out like that. No wonder you look like death warmed over. (_Playboy_, Jan 1973)