I remember someone said to me that "the man crushed the box flat", so that is the structure "to crush + N + adjective".

And it seems most dictionaries say "to crush + N + to death".

My question is that,

Can we say "I crushed the cockroach dead"?

If we can, then

What is the difference between "I crushed the cockroach dead" and "I crushed the cockroach to death"?

  • 2
    Just say you crushed the cockroach. That's bound to kill it, so there's no reason to explicitly mention death. But all ways of saying it would mean the same thing. Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 12:26
  • 2
    In more credible example contexts, it's normally She shot him dead, not She shot him to death. BUT it's normally She rocked the baby to sleep rather than She rocked the baby asleep. The way the "result" condition is expressed very much depends on the specific main verb that causes the result. Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 12:31
  • @FumbleFingers, maybe, " She shot him dead" means just 1 shot and he is dead instantly and "She shot him to death" means she shot him several times before he was actually dead
    – Tom
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 12:59
  • @FumbleFingers - In British news sources you more often see 'shot (someone) dead' where US sources might say 'shot (someone) to death', and in both zones it can be done with one or more than one bullet. I don't think you can beat, stab, kick, etc, someone dead. Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 14:36
  • @MichaelHarvey: Apparently a couple of centuries ago, both Brits and Americans were perfectly happy to stab someone dead. But today we usually stab people to death on both sides of the pond. None of us ever used to beat them dead though. Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 15:56

1 Answer 1


The two sentences literally mean the same thing. But

I crushed the cockroach dead.

is more likely to be said with pride. It emphasizes the deliberateness and the finality of the act.

I crushed the cockroach to death.

is more likely to be said with shame or surprise. It suggests that the crushing didn't necessarily have to result in death, or that the crushing that caused the death was unintentional.

But those are just feelings based on the structure of the sentences. Literally, the two sentences mean the exact same thing.

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