And how much would you kill to have been in the room with them?


Hello friends,

This conversation is retrieved from Malcolm Gladwell's Podcast "Revisionist History" - S01E07 Hallelujah.

A: What we did have, when we did the playback of Punch the Clock, we got quite drunk and played it back really loud.
B: Of course they did. And how much would you kill to have been in the room with them?
A: And he kind of freaked out, he said, “It’s all rubbish,” you know, "It's terrible, it's terrible." And I said... I had to, you know, calm him down a bit and we all carried on.

I don't understand the meaning of the underlined above. Can someone explain to me about the context and the meaning of it?

  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The usage isn't so odd to me. The expression "I would kill to" be somewhere or do something used to be common enough, to say how far I'd go (committing murder) in order to achieve some particular thing I am envious of others doing. It is hyperbole of course, but I haven't heard it used in recent years, perhaps because we have all become more aware of people who really would kill to achieve their aims.

    I suppose the obvious question form would be "Would you kill?", but this only offers a binary choice, and we tend to prefer "How much would you...?" questions ("How much would you give to go to the concert?").

    The linking of "how much" and "kill" appears not to make logical sense (Arthur: "It wouldn't be killing you if it weren't completely." The Testing of Eric Olthwaite, Ripping Yarns (1976)), but this isn't much of a problem in English, not when we are talking figuratively, at any rate. In a rather different context, the writer AP Herbert used How much can you kill a burglar? as the title of one of his Misleading Cases (Regina v Hockey (1964)), and no one could accuse him of having a poor command of the English Language.
    < Previous | Next >