Posted by: LucidMystery | January 10, 2009

The Exploration of a Euphemism

I wonder who came up with the phrase “death warmed over” as a response to “how do you feel.” Saying plain and simple “I feel badly” gets the point across, but this phrase must add a little extra oomph. I mean, it does brings certain things to mind that I’m sure help with the denotation of the phrase.

First of all “death.” Not the most pleasant concept. Dark, depressing, and unhealthy. Well, that part was easy!

Second, “warmed over”, that equals leftovers, right? Normally, I quite enjoy leftovers, but no American says “warmed over.” That must mean the British folks do. So I think of leftover British food. What do British eat? Bubble and squeak, blood sausage, bangers and mash, meat pies, and Cornish pasties. Anyone have a clue what any of those are? Me neither, but they don’t sound too appetizing. So their warmed over versions must really be something. Now I have in my head that “warmed over” is something pretty grody returning to attack you (or your taste buds) a second time.

So, “death warmed over.” Yeah, combining those meanings would definitely equal an experience that would be unpleasant to say the very least. This still asks the question who said it first, but at least now that we all know what it means, we can use it more accurately.

(By the way, I’m taking my box of tissues, bottle of Vitamin water, bowl of soup, and I’m climbing back into bed! I feel rather like death warmed over.)

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