I have seen a person using 'like anything' as intensifier. Freedictionary website gave these example of 'like anything':-

  1. He ran like anything. (intensifier; usually euphemistic)
  2. We worked like anything to meet the deadline. (To an exceeding degree)

Please tell me is this usage common? Also tell me if there are some alternative phrases which I can use in most of the sentences.

  • 1
    It's a bit "dated/childish". You're more likely to hear like crazy or like mad today (or perhaps like hell, like the devil from older speakers). Aug 28, 2013 at 21:34
  • 'like crazy' is good especially in informal situation ,thanks.
    – Arun
    Aug 30, 2013 at 7:30
  • I think we dont use intensifiers in formal situation, right?
    – Arun
    Sep 4, 2013 at 7:58

2 Answers 2


As a native English speaker, I find "like anything" as an intensifier to be easily understood. It strikes me as a euphemism for "like hell." It probably came from "like hell was after him," meaning that the worst possible consequence would befall him if he failed to complete the task in time.

  • 4
    Easily understood? Yes. Particularly common? I would say no. A little awkward? Again, I think yes.
    – Daniel
    Aug 28, 2013 at 18:07
  • Agreed, @Daniel.
    – Dane
    Aug 29, 2013 at 17:28
  • 1
    I think it's a bit simplistic (narrow-minded, even) to suppose anything is specifically a euphemism for hell. OP's examples could just as easily be expressed "He ran like the wind", "We worked like Trojans". Or indeed, they could both be replaced by like fuck if you wanted to be profane. I certainly don't accept that "anything* "came from" euphemistic substitution of hell - some if not most people would always have just used the general-purpose word because off-hand they can't think of the "archetypal example" for whatever comparison they're trying to make. Aug 30, 2013 at 12:32

You asked for alternative phrases; there are quite a few, depending both on the context and the degree of formality you want, and on whether you want to use a metaphor at all.


He ran like a bat out of hell - very casual; only used for speed.

He worked like a dog - casual; used for effort.

She worked like the dickens - quite old fashioned.

and many others

of course you could use She ran very fast or She worked very hard.

  • You caught the second part of the question that I missed. Feel free to incorporate my answer's information into yours for a complete answer.
    – Dane
    Aug 29, 2013 at 17:29

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