Idiom:  scare the hell out of someone

A boy stands at an easel holding the painting of an evil demon. A puzzled father looks on: I tried to smile and be supportive but my son's Father's Day portrait scared the hell out of me.

Meaning

Idiom:  scare the hell out of someone

  • to frighten or shock someone very much (often this is a sudden scare)

Note:  This is an informal phrase and the word "hell" makes this idiom impolite. Use it in casual conversation. We also frequently say "frighten the hell out of someone" or "surprise the hell out of someone." 


Example sentences

— When I saw my bank balance was negative it scared the hell out of me because my rent check hadn’t cleared yet.

— When my doctor told me there was a problem with my blood test it really scared the hell out of me but luckily it wasn’t anything serious.

— Your behavior scared the hell out of me last night and that's why I took a cab home.

— The director's drinking scared the hell out of the staff this morning. We could smell the alcohol on his breath as he yelled at each of us.

— The pop quiz today scared the hell out of me. I wasn't prepared and got only got four out of the ten questions right.

— A loud noise downstairs scared the hell out of me last night and I decided to call the police instead of investigating myself.

— Mice and spiders really scare the hell out of me.

— Flying used to scare the hell out of me until I really, truly understood that worrying and being anxious has zero impact on the outcome.

— You scared the hell out of us! You were afraid to wake us up so you didn't call? Well, we didn't sleep all night!

— Catching the coronavirus scares the hell out of me. In fact, I have only left my house three times in the past 18 months.

— The announcement of the active shooter scared the hell out of everyone and we all dove under our desks.


Synonyms

  • scare someone to death
  • scare the crap/shit out of someone (informal, rude)
  • freak someone out
  • scare someone out of their mind
  • frighten/scare the living daylights out of someone
  • give someone the heebie-jeebies
  • give someone the shivers/chills
  • make someone's flesh/skin crawl


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