A simple search on internet gives you the meaning of this idiom.

But I am having a hard time understanding the structure of this idiom. When we say 'the movie scared the hell out of me', we generally mean the movie scared me very much. But the placement of 'the hell out of' just beside the Main verb feels to me that he scared the hell not me.

'The hell out of me' is an adverbial phrase perhaps and expressing the result of the action.

Common examples are 'He ran himself ragged', 'He cut the cake into pieces'. In both the examples the adverbial phrase comes after the object. But in the 'hell out of' example sentences it comes before the object(me).

So why it can't be— the movie scared me the hell out?

1 Answer 1


Compare it to The mobsters beat the stuffing out of him, which itself is essentially the same as He hung the rug over the clothesline and beat the dust out of it.

Compare also to The bomb’s blast scared the crap out of him, which corresponds to a real physiological effect: sometimes sudden extreme fear causes the sphincter to loosen.

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