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Where did the expression 'love someone to the bones' come from?

And is the meaning 'love someone too much' correct for that?

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I like this phrase; I've never heard it before. Where did you hear it? –  KitFox Jun 24 '11 at 13:46
    
I heard it on a song a while ago, but I don't remember which one it was :( –  Felipe Sabino Jun 24 '11 at 13:54
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Now I know where the verb "to bone" comes from. –  Anderson Silva Jun 24 '11 at 15:28

5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

With regard to the song in which you heard it, the phrase has a double meaning. That's probably why you have the impression that it means too much. The song is Silverchair's Ana's Song (Open Fire) and it's about anorexia (ana is teencode for anorexia). The double meaning is "to the bone" as in deeply (see @Kiamlaluno's answer) as well as in the sense of the skin-and-bone appearance of an anorexic body.

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uow! ana's song! that's the one!! –  Felipe Sabino Jun 24 '11 at 14:17
    
@Felipe I think so. It's the only one I found with that phrase. It's not nearly so nice in that context. –  KitFox Jun 24 '11 at 14:18

As reported by the NOAD, to the bone means:

  • (of a wound) so deep as to expose a person's bone: his thigh had been axed open to the bone.
  • (figurative) his contempt cut her to the bone.
  • (especially of cold) affecting a person in a penetrating way: chilled to the bone.
  • (or to one's bones) used to emphasize that a person has a specified quality in an overwhelming or fundamental way: she's a New Englander to her bones.

In I love her to the bones, I would interpret to the bones as deeply, not as too much.

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I think this gives a very good sense of the various meanings of "to the bone." –  KitFox Jun 24 '11 at 14:15

The meaning of this idiom is

to the bone
as completely as possible

It can apply not only to love.

To match that meaning with "love someone too much", you would have to use either specific context or specific attitude.

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It is often said on British films and TV shows. It means I love him/her to bits. I love every little thing about him or her.

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It clearly means 'deeply, all the way through, totally' and no double meaning.

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