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Make a killing

Posted by ESC on December 15, 2006

In Reply to: Make a killing posted by ESC on December 15, 2006

: : I know the meaning of "make a killing" but I have been unable to find the origin of this phrase. When did it first appear in the language and how did it come about? If anyone can answer this question I'd be very grateful, as I need to know this for a short story I am writing. Sorry if someone else has asked this; I didn't see this phrase on any other thread. Thanks!

: Late 1800s. Originally U.S. To make a profit by gambling, whether at the races, on the stock market, in a casino, etc. From Cassell's Dictionary of Slang by Jonathon Green (Wellington House, London, 1998). Page 763.

This probably has a connection: "To kill has been used as an adverbial phrase meaning to a great degree, since 1831, and as a verb meaning to overwhelm, since around 1910..." From Listening to America: An Illustrated History of Words and Phrases from Our Lively and Splendid Past by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982). Page 293. "To make one's pile" dates from 1850. Page 364.