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I checked the idiom "take someone's head off" in three online dictionaries: TFD, Phrases.net, and Wiktionary and it means: "to scold or berate someone severely."

But I still don't understand the meaning of the phrase. So, could you please tell me what the meaning of

Dad had damned near taken someone’s head off

The full text:

In October Dad won a contract to build industrial granaries in Malad City, the dusty farm town on the other side of Buck’s Peak. It was a big job for a small outfit—the crew was just Dad, Shawn, Luke, and Audrey’s husband, Benjamin—but Shawn was a good foreman, and with him in charge Dad had acquired a reputation for fast, reliable work. Shawn wouldn’t let Dad take shortcuts. Half the time I passed the shop, I’d hear the two of them shouting at each other, Dad saying Shawn was wasting time, Shawn screaming that Dad had damned near taken someone’s head off.

Educated by Tara Westover

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    After 22 questions about meanings of words, idioms, phrasal verbs, etc. don't you think it's time to use an online dictionary and at least show that you attempted to find a solution? – Mari-Lou A May 17 '18 at 17:58
  • @ Mari-Lou A I use some online dictionaries but sometimes I can not find a solution. Sorry for all the trouble. – Peace May 17 '18 at 18:18
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    @Peace - It's not trouble, it's habits. You should tell us what words you looked up, and what you found when you did. Questions on the Stack Exchange are expected to show research, so we know you're not simply asking here without doing any legwork of your own. Questions that take that little step tend to garner more upvotes, too, because we appreciate knowing where you looked first. – J.R. May 17 '18 at 18:28
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There are two different colloquial phrases here: "damned near" and to have "taken someone's head off".

"Damned near" (often shortened to just "Damn near") is adding profanity to the idea that something almost happened. Just as with any other use of profanity, the meaning is very dependent on context. If the speaker is often profane, there may not be any heat intended by the word. However, if someone rarely uses profanity "damned near" indicates that the person is angry or frightened by the event.

It is also worth noting that "damn near" and similar phrases like "damn fine" or "damn good", are more common in rural communities. An author might be trying to convey that someone is from a rural community, such as this "dusty farm town".

To "take someone's head off" is not always a metaphor. In this case, the author is describing safety on a construction site, where someone who is careless could cause a lot of damage. The argument the author describes involves the cost of being safe against the risk of getting someone hurt. In this context, "Dad" may have narrowly avoided making a fatal mistake.

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Because of the repeated use of the phrase,

Half the time I passed the shop, I’d hear the two of them shouting at each other, Dad saying Shawn was wasting time, Shawn screaming that Dad had damned near taken someone’s head off.

It is a strong exaggeration by the foreman. The foreman caught Dad trying to take a shortcut with Dad saying that the foreman was wasting time by not taking the shortcut and the foreman yelling that this shortcut could have hurt somebody (the "damned near taken someone's head off")

No, his dad isn't the Highlander, nobody is physically decapitating anybody.

My parents used this type of speech. When somebody yelled at mom, she'd say "Well, don't take my head off!"

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