Kill with kindness

Kill with kindness is an idiom that dates back hundreds of years. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom kill with kindness, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Kill with kindness is an idiom that means to be extremely helpful, solicitous, or generous to someone with the intention of causing that person discomfort or harm. For instance, one may feed someone who is trying to lose weight fattening, delicious food. While on the surface, it seems kind to give that person pleasure; in reality, it is not a kindness because it is contributing to that person’s weight problem. Related phrases are kills with kindness, killed with kindness, killing with kindness. The expression kill with kindness is an old one; it is found in Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew: “This is a way to kill a wife with kindness, and thus I’ll curb her mad and headstrong humor.” However, the term seems to have originated with an obscure English proverb popular in the 1500s that is no longer in use: Kill with kindness as fond apes do their young. The idea is that a mother ape is so strong, she unwittingly caresses her baby so fiercely that she crushes it.


Always one to kill with kindness, Keke finished off her tweet by sending ‘love’ to Marcus and the other 10 chefs he chose to bring the Met Gala’s menu to life. (Daily Mail)

Outside the show, however, these two prefer to kill with kindness as they face off in Teen Vogue‘s Compliment Battle, where they gaze into each other’s eyes while bonding over your compliments. (Teen Vogue)

Experts in one-upmanship, they kill with kindness (and large amounts of salty and fatty food) and nothing is ever quite good enough. (Jewish Chronicle)

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