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Difference between Be death on someone and Be the death of someone

be death on someone—(coll.)

1. be fatal to a person; be very effective in acting against smb.:

  • The new teacher is death on students who come late to class.

2. be very fond of a person:

  • Fanny hasn’t forgotten you … she was always death on you English chaps.

Note: The expression does not correlate in meaning with the phrase die on someone(also: go dead on someone)

1. die while in the charge or care of a person:

  • “I want to look after her while she’s in England.” “Suppose she died on you?”

2. (of an apparatus, appliance, etc. in smb.’s care) break down; cease to function:

  • My car died on me, and I couldn’t get it started.

be the death of someone—(coll.)

1. said of things (especially done repeatedly) which upset or irritate a person:

  • Forty, if she’s a day, wears pince-nez and an air of brisk efficiency that will be the death of me.

2. said of smb. who is exceptionally funny or ridiculous:

  • Lili’s capering seemed the funniest thing she had ever seen. “Stop, Lili, stop! You’ll be the death of me!”