English idioms – to make a killing

Conversation transcript

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Today’s phrase is “to make a killing.”

“Her new business was a fantastic success; she made a killing in its first two months.”

To make a killing.


To make a killing on something means that you make a LOT of money, usually on some kind of investment or business venture, and usually in a short period of time and without too much effort.


When you talk about making a killing, it’s always singular, always “a killing.” Never “the killing” or “the killings.” You can use an adjective to strengthen the effect. For example “they made an absolute killing!” or “we made a freaking killing!” Note that an adjective like “freaking” is very informal slang. You probably should only use words like that if the group of people that you’re with is comfortable with that type of language.

Authentic example

Today’s authentic example is from CNN:

The fossil remains of now-extinct businesses … litter the Internet. Their founders once thought they would make a killing with their clever Web-based plans. Instead, they folded, either because nobody ever found their site or because those that did never pumped any money back in.

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