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What adjectives can you combine with drop-dead to emphasize?

There's drop-dead gorgeous, can you also combine others like "nice" and "simple"?

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3 Answers 3

If you modify an adverb with the phrase drop-dead, you're saying that it's extremely/intensely/incredibly [adjective] - so much so, it might kill you on the spot.

While someone might be gorgeous enough to invite heart palpitations, it's harder to imagine the effect of someone's kindness or simplicity could be the same.

Personally, I don't think there's much of a reason to expand this modifier's usage; it seems more likely you'll misfire and raise eyebrows than anything else.

If you are going to use it, use it with intense adjectives, keeping in mind that most speakers are used to hearing it only in a few stock phrases (and those are generally beauty-related).

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Thanks! So what would you say to "Posterous Makes Sharing Anything Drop-Dead Simple"? or "Posterous is Sharing made drop-dead easy?"? Are those wrong or raising eyebrows? Cause their actual usages of the phrase (both come from mashable) –  nosferatu Oct 21 '11 at 7:18
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I would say not everyone agrees with me. :) Of course, every speaker is welcome to use the language as s/he sees fit; my advice is absolutely subjective. "Drop-dead simple" seems silly to me, but it clearly doesn't to everyone! –  onomatomaniak Oct 21 '11 at 7:22
    
If you want, take a look at this Ngram: books.google.com/ngrams/… "Drop-dead easy" flatlines. So it's not just me. –  onomatomaniak Oct 21 '11 at 7:29

"Drop dead" is an "extreme" adjective. So is "gorgeous." But "nice" and "simple" are not.

I would use an extreme adjective only in combination with other such adjectives.

And preferably not at all. Unless one wants to get a reputation as a "hyperbolic" (extreme) speaker.

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According to a contemporary English corpus, drop-dead is only used to intensify adjectives related to beauty: gorgeous, handsome, etc.

You can sometimes omit the intensified adjective.

the Fiftieth TV Emmys with its parade of pretties in drop-dead designer dresses

Of course, there is also a more literal meaning of drop-dead.

There is a possible connection between beauty and simplicity, however, both of those combinations sound wrong to my ears.

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