make a killing: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘make a killing’ mean?

The idiom "make a killing" means to earn a huge profit or be very successful in something, typically in a financial sense. It is often used to describe someone who has made a large amount of money or achieved great success in a particular endeavor.

Idiom Explorer

Deadly Decoding

*make a killing* is an idiom that is often used to describe a situation where someone turns a profit or is very successful, often in a financial sense. It is a common phrase in the English language, particularly in informal contexts. The origin of the idiom is uncertain, but there are a few theories regarding its etymology.

One possible origin of the phrase *make a killing* is related to hunting or slaughtering animals. In this context, the word "killing" refers to the act of killing an animal. The phrase may have evolved to mean making a large profit or being very successful by analogy with the idea of a successful hunt or slaughter.

Another theory suggests that the idiom originated from the world of gambling. The word "killing" could be interpreted as defeating or "killing" one's opponents in a game or betting situation. Thus, *making a killing* could refer to making a significant amount of money through gambling or winning a competition.

Furthermore, there is speculation that the idiom's origin may lie in the stock market or financial world. *Make a killing* could have originally referred to making a large profit through successful trading or investment. This theory is supported by the fact that the phrase is often used in the context of financial gain.

Successful businesses thrive on profit and wealth.

The idiom *make a killing* is commonly used in everyday language to describe situations of great success or profit. It is often used informally in conversations, news articles, and other forms of communication. The phrase has become well-established and widely understood among English speakers.

One related idiom is *turn a profit*. This phrase means to make money or earn a profit in a business venture or financial transaction. It can be used interchangeably with *make a killing* to describe a successful financial outcome or profit.

Another related idiom is *make a go of*. This phrase means to be successful or make progress in a particular endeavor or venture. It can be used to describe achieving success or making a profit, similar to the meaning of *make a killing*.

Similarly, the idiom *make a name for oneself* can be associated with *make a killing*. It means to become well-known or renowned for one's achievements or success in a particular field. *Make a killing* can be used to describe achieving great success and recognition that contributes to making a name for oneself.

Lastly, the idiom *quick buck* is related to *make a killing*. It refers to making money quickly and easily, often through questionable or unethical means. While *make a killing* generally has a positive connotation, *quick buck* can sometimes carry a negative implication of pursuing immediate financial gain without considering long-term consequences.

Overall, the exact origin of the idiom *make a killing* remains uncertain. While several theories exist, none can be definitively proven. However, the idiom's meaning and usage are well-established in the English language. It continues to be used to describe situations of significant success or profit, and its popularity remains intact.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "make a killing" can be used in a sentence:

  • 1. Jane invested in a startup that became wildly successful, and she made a killing when she sold her shares.
  • 2. The real estate market is booming right now, and many people are making a killing by flipping houses.
  • 3. After winning the lottery, John felt like he had made a killing, as he suddenly had millions of dollars.

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