Author Topic: “Stabbed dead” or “stabbed to death?”  (Read 6595 times)

Joe Carillo

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“Stabbed dead” or “stabbed to death?”
« on: November 02, 2011, 12:05:25 PM »
Forum member ooliveros e-mailed the news alert below along with this question:

“Stabbed dead” or “stabbed to death?”

Quote
Charice Pempengco’s father stabbed dead after drinking session
Victim, ‘killer’ both drunk, say investigators

CAMP PACIANO RIZAL, Laguna – The estranged father of international singing sensation Charice Pempengco was stabbed dead in San Pedro, Laguna before midnight Monday, police said on Tuesday...

My reply to ooliveros:

Saying it either way is acceptable journalistic usage: “stabbed dead” or “stabbed to death.” Both are widely used idioms for “Died after being stabbed” in much the same way as “shot dead” or “shot to death” are used for “Died after being shot.”

As in your case, of course, what uncomfortably comes to my mind from reading or hearing “stabbed dead” is that the victim was “stabbed when already dead” (how macabre!) or that the assailant “kept on stabbing the victim until he or she died” (how gruesome!). For a long time now, though, these haven't been the intended senses for “stabbed dead” or “stabbed to death,” as evidenced by the following comparative Google hits of their usage in the sense of “Died after being stabbed”:

“Stabbed dead” – 185,000
“Stabbed to death” – 12,900,000

The comparative Google hits for their counterpart “death by shooting” idioms are as follows:

“Shot dead” – 14,000,000
“Shot to death” – 13,800,000

This preponderance of “stabbed/shot dead” and “stabbed/shot to death” usage should dispel once and for all our lingering doubts about their grammatical and semantic validity.

In English as in most languages, usage trumps logic over the long haul.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2011, 07:23:50 AM by Joe Carillo »

Miss Mae

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Re: “Stabbed dead” or “stabbed to death?”
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2011, 05:49:23 PM »
How about shooting dead?

Hu, a veteran judicial police officer, described the routine of shooting dead prisoners convicted of murder and other capital crimes in China, which rights groups say carries out more judicial killings each year than anywhere else in the world.