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catch one's death

  1. (idiomatic) To contract a serious illness, especially a nasty cold or other respiratory ailment and especially as a result of exposure to wet or chilly weather.
    • 1824, Washington Irving, "The Adventure of Sam, the Black Fisherman" in Tales of a Traveller:
      "You'll get drenched to the skin—You'll catch your death!" said Peechy Prauw, affectionately.
    • 1848, Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton, ch. 6:
      "My eye as like! you don't think I'm such a fool as to catch my death of cold, and let the horses catch their death too."
    • 1868, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, ch. 46:
      "You shall trudge away, and do your errands in the rain, and if you catch your death and ruin your bonnet, it's no more than you deserve."
    • 1998, George Packer, Central Square, →ISBN, ch. 1 (New York Times reprint):
      Now Linda's catching her death outside in nothing but her nightie.
    • 2009 February 9, Gareth McLean, "Culture: An epic weekend in TV," Guardian (UK) (retrieved 14 Sept 2017):
      Carla left him weeping in the rain, soaked to the skin, in his trademark tight white shirt. He may yet catch his death.

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