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Here's my question.

When we say "He really killed the fried chicken",

Does it mean...

1) He really loves fried chicken and scarf down, while having it.

or

2) He's really good at making the dish

Does the meaning depend on the situation/context?

Thanks in advance. :)

  • I think your last part explains it best. The word killed is being used as figurative slang, and it could refer to his voracious appetite, or to his culinary skills. (As a side note, I noticed that you've accepted an answer here rather quickly – perhaps too quickly). – J.R. Jun 5 '15 at 9:15
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    In the sense of eating the chicken, the important thing is not how much he liked it, nor how quickly he ate it, but that he ate ALL of it. Or, to use your term, he scarfed it ALL down. Sometimes this is intensified by saying killed it off. – Brian Hitchcock Jun 5 '15 at 11:48
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First, you would want to include an article:

He really killed the fried chicken.

Second, you are correct – either meaning is possible, and more context would help us determine which meaning is intended. Consider:

He killed a whole bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken! Amazing!

I'd assume that meant eating the whole thing (probably in one sitting). However:

He killed that fried chicken last night. It was delicious!

I'd assume that referred to how well the chicken was prepared.

Third, you should realize this is a very informal use of the verb kill, and that word has other slang meanings as well. In addition to the two meanings you list here, it can also mean to ruin:

He killed that fried chicken last night. We had to go out to eat instead.

Fourth, absent any further context, the original sentence could mean that he literally butchered the chickens:

He really killed the fried chicken!
What, do you mean he cooked it well?
No, I mean he really killed it! Some friend of his has a chicken farm about 30 miles from town – we went there last weekend and killed three birds.

  • Orthographically, 'killed' should be 'ruined'. That way, in cooking, if someone 'kills' the dish, she should be ruining it completely. That's what came first in my mind till I referred the UD. – Maulik V Jun 5 '15 at 9:56
  • @Maulik - Except with slang, words often can become autoantonyms, which is why bad can mean good, and killed can mean aced. That's why we need more context. – J.R. Jun 5 '15 at 9:59
  • true that... and this answer explains most of the possibilities or contexts. +1 sir! :) – Maulik V Jun 5 '15 at 10:00
  • I was ready to +1 until you got to the butchering. You don't butcher the prepared dish. He butchered the Beef Wellington? Butcher there could only be taken figuratively, not literally. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 5 '15 at 10:44
  • @TRomano - No, but you can butcher the bird that was eventually fried. I have a friend who raises turkeys. Around the holidays a few years ago, my daughters and I visited his farm, and helped him butcher some birds. That year, I could have easily said, "Nancy killed the Thanksgiving turkey" and nothing would have been grammatically (or factually) wrong with that sentence. – J.R. Jun 5 '15 at 11:51
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Killing it means that you're doing something really well.

You don't necessarily need the it, but could also simply say this:

  • He really killed the fried chicken.
  • I totally killed the exam.
  • do you have reference for that? – Maulik V Jun 5 '15 at 7:10
  • It is slang, so you will probably not find it in dictionaries other than the urban dictionary. You can Google search for the expression and you will see that it is used in this sense. – Sander Jun 5 '15 at 7:26
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    I don't think you need to include the it. One entry in UD says: kill to finish something (mostly food or drink) : Hey can I kill that sandwich? Another says that kill means "to do really well on," as in, I killed that test today! In short, I think your answer was more accurate before the modifications prompted by the challenge by @Maulik – J.R. Jun 5 '15 at 9:27
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    @Maulik - The O.P.'s original sentence could have at least two meanings. Sander's modified sentence eliminates the "scarfing it down" meaning, but that bit about needing to say "killing it" instead of "killed" is inaccurate; we could just as easily say: He killed the fried chicken last night – it was scrumptious. (I don't know what example you looked at; the UD has more than 50 for the word kill.) – J.R. Jun 5 '15 at 9:49
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    You don't need an it. He really killed that fried chicken. Compare the phrase "He really nailed that song" -> "He really sang that song very well." – user6951 Jun 6 '15 at 2:12
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"He really killed the fried chicken" means he ruined it.

There is a double entendre to saying this. The chicken is already dead in the literal sense, but when you say "killed it" you are also referring to killing (i.e.) destroying the chicken.

As mentioned, "killing it" can have a positive connotation too. It depends how you say it. You would generally say "it" as part of the phrase alá "killing it" or "killed it" rather than saying "killed [name of thing killed]". Otherwise you might not get your point across. People might not realise you're using slang.

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