- She made a killing on the stock market.
- The comedian killed the audience — they were slain with laughter.
Did this meaning develop slowly over time or did some person or institution invert the definition?
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Etymonline has an entry for killing:
While its usage to mean "very funny" is partly covered in another question, its usage via idioms like to make a killing to indicate a "large profit" dates back to 1886 (as noted above). The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms has the following to say about make a killing:
The Online Etymology dictionary states:
Since the basic meaning of killing is "an act of causing death" I don't think either are surprising slang derivations.
You can either "kill people with laughter" (stop it, you're killing me!) or vanquish your foes in the financial realm (I'm making a killing in the stock market.)