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If we see somebody, we are either visiting them or meeting them (generally for all good reasons).

A doctor advising his patient to see him after a week of taking medicines. A secretary telling her client to see him on Tuesday for the deal... and so on.

But, here is my context.

Harry did too bad to me by making fun out of me. Unfortunately, in front of everyone, I could not do anything but warn him for the consequences --"I'll see you" and then I left the place.

Here, I will see Harry but this seeing is different! How should I use see somebody that does not mean meeting/visiting for all good intention? Taking revenge or teaching Harry a lesson does not require me meeting him personally! So, here, actually, I don't see him.

When a hero says to a villain that he'll see him, does it merely mean meeting as in the general context? I don't think so. The hero uses see metaphorically and does not meet the villain. He may simply damage villain's properties making him riches to rags! And the hero goes off! Where did he see him? :)

In Hindi and my mother tongue Gujarati, see you literally means I'll screw you when the time will come.

  • "Don't act too smart, buddy. I'm leaving your for now. But don't worry, I'll see you." sounds odd to me. – Damkerng T. Jul 3 '14 at 7:25
  • @DamkerngT. Okay, simplified. – Maulik V Jul 3 '14 at 7:38
  • What goes around comes around might have a similar meaning. – jinawee Jul 3 '14 at 7:49
  • @jinawee Not at all. I'm not leaving anything to the destiny. It's me who'll teach him a lesson and not anyone else. What goes around .... idiom talks about the rule of the nature that does not require someone's efforts as here in this case. – Maulik V Jul 3 '14 at 7:53
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    @MaulikV I think it's odd to think of someone saying, "I'll see you," and leaving the party, spitefully. I think a better phrase might be "You'll see me again." – Damkerng T. Jul 3 '14 at 8:01
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This use of see is not idiomatic in Anglo-American English. The corresponding minatory phrase is

I'll get you!

This probably represents an underlying “I’ll get you back” = “I will repay you for this injury”.

That idiom suggests a line that Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator films have made into a paradigmatic threat:

I'll be back.

It may also be possible that “I’ll get you” represents “I’ll get you where I want you” = “I will cause you to occupy an unpleasant situation in which I would like to see you”. I suggest this because there is an old AAE idiom, little used today but once popular in melodramatic dialogue, which used see in this sense.

I'll see you damned / in hell / hanged / in jail!

This does not imply literal presence when the addressee is in the named predicament, but gleeful anticipation of that situation. There is a discussion of one common (and still current) variant at ELU.

  • +1 Thanks for saving me a question. In Iron Man 2008, Rodey says to Toney, 'When I get up in the morning and I'm putting on my uniform, you know what I recognize? I see in that mirror that every person that's got this uniform will get my back!' @Maulik V – Kinzle B Jul 3 '14 at 13:16
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    @ZhanlongZheng I've got your back is quite different from I will get you back. Got your back means I have got your back covered: I am protecting your back while you are engaged with opponents in front of you. – StoneyB Jul 3 '14 at 13:24
  • I forgot to mention 'get my back' = 'protect me'. Yes, StoneyB is right:) @Maulik V I sometimes confuse these two. idiomquest.com/learn/idiom/I-got-your-back is a good source. :) – Kinzle B Jul 3 '14 at 13:25
  • Isn't this usage possible? The scene is I'm pointing my finger at you and uttering in anger ... "I'll see you later." It certainly means I'll come back and take revenge. I think it's an obvious expression to be understood with see used in a special way. – Maulik V Jul 4 '14 at 4:27
  • @MaulikV It's certainly possible, and intelligible. But it is not an AAE idiom or stock phrase. I would not, as a playwright, put it into the mouth of an American character, as I might I'll get you or (if I wanted to get a laugh) I'll be back. – StoneyB Jul 4 '14 at 5:04
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I think the most idiomatic phrase that uses "see" would be

You haven't seen the last of me

Which means, basically, "This incident may be complete, but I will arrange for there to be another incident, which I intend to be in control of."

It's possible for this be used in a relatively unthreatening manner (such as after you have suffered a loss in some sporting event, to indicate your desire for a rematch), but most often it indicates a desire to administer a beating or humiliation at least as severe as what you have just received.

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