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I've heard this term, to take dead aim at something. Does the "dead" in this expression do anything? I remember hearing the expression "I'll do my level best" and was quite sure leaving "level" out would leave the statement unchanged in meaning. Is this a similar case or not?

Here are examples of its use:
Video 1
Video 2
Tony Abbott takes dead aim at Malcolm Turnbull

I'm thinking either the "dead" contributes nothing to the meaning, or possibly it functions as an intensifier, in the same way that "right" functions in "I'll go [right] for the jugular". Maybe it means in a stronger or more aggressive way?

It just seems to me that "take aim" seems to get the point across, what does the "dead" mean?

closed as off-topic by choster, AmE speaker, JonMark Perry, Kris, jimm101 Aug 22 '18 at 0:25

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    dead: 10. (adjective) Dead is used to mean 'complete' or 'absolute', especially before the words 'centre', 'silence', and 'stop'. 11. (adverb) Dead means 'precisely' or 'exactly'. 12. (adverb) Dead is sometimes used to mean 'very'. [Collins] – choster Aug 20 '18 at 18:15
  • Very relevant, but not (I think) a duplicate: Origin of the term "deadeye" meaning "expert marksman". Pretty clearly, the deadeye takes dead aim at the not-yet-dead target. Another question worth consulting is Origin of the expression "dead to rights". – Sven Yargs Aug 21 '18 at 7:10
  • Due to the three votes to close and the downvote of the question I take it for whatever reason there's something wrong with the question. Moderators feel free to close it, as I don't think I'll get any further clarification about what it means. Thanks. – Zebrafish Aug 21 '18 at 7:36
  • There are now 4 votes to close and two downvotes on my question, which suggests to me there is definitely something wrong with this question. We would probably do well to close it. – Zebrafish Aug 21 '18 at 9:10
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I assume it's a reference to dead center, when aiming at the target. From the standpoint of literal meaning it doesn't add much, beyond implying a degree of certainty of the aim.

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    Soooo, kind of like "I'm taking aim" and "I'm not messing around."? Or going right for the bullseye. So it's more serious, maybe more aggressive? – Zebrafish Aug 20 '18 at 18:16
  • So if taking aim at someone means going after them, then maintaining the same metaphor, to take centre aim at them would mean.... I don't quite know. – Zebrafish Aug 20 '18 at 18:30
  • @Zebrafish You don't want to just wing them? ;) – Jason Bassford Aug 20 '18 at 19:10
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Sounds instructive. Like in - the archer,disciple is commanded to take dead - sure aim. Bull's eye.

As used in https://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/04/obituaries/harvey-penick-90-golf-s-top-author-dies.html "If there has ever been a person to take dead aim in life and hit bull's eye, its Mr. Harvey".

I think, the word dead is used here to press upon more on subsequent word which is aim. Another usage is - dead straight. Ex. Look dead straight while walking ramp.. Here, its dead aim , so, take aim with full focus...

Reference : https://www.golf.com/instruction/golf-teacher-hall-fame-harvey-penick

TAKE DEAD AIM Penick will always be remembered for his advice to “Take Dead Aim.” He explained this as meaning that during the time you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in your life. Shut out all thoughts other than picking out a target and taking dead aim at it. Forget about how your swing looks and concentrate on where you want the ball to go.

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