These are all commonly used phrases and I have encountered one or another in different time in my reading or in conversations. I have to say I haven’t used much of these in my own writing for the simple reason that I am not dead certain of the suitability. Is it too colloquial to let them show up in written forms? How much slang one can explore in one’s writing? It’s not the problem of using them or not using them, but rather the degree of usage. As a non-native speaker writing in English, I feel that typical puzzlement about the aesthetics of the language and sometimes I have to suppress my own Asian flair to cater to the imagined taste of the native speakers. I often regret afterwards since I think this suppression may do damage to my mind and make it timid or tepid as a result. How about instead of suppressing, I mold my Asian style into something acceptable in English? I haven’t figured out a way to do it and I am still thinking…
Life, Living, Alive
high life: an exciting and luxurious way of living
art imitating life: The observation that a creative work was inspired by true events
the living proof: someone that provides an example that proves that something can be done. For example, she’s living proof that success is possible for a woman in this field.
living wage: a wage that is high enough to maintain a normal standard of living.
living on borrowed time: to continue to live past the time one was expected to die and be likely to die soon.
the living daylight out of: used to emphasize the severity or thoroughness of an action. Example: “he beat the living daylights out of them”.
living dangerously: do something risky, especially on a habitual basis.
living legend: a person who is famous while still living for doing something extremely well.
living fossil: an organism (such as a horseshoe crab or a ginkgo tree) that has remained essentially unchanged from earlier geologic times and whose close relatives are usually extinct.
for dear life: as if or in order to escape death.”I clung to the tree for dear life”
walk of life: the position within society that someone holds or the part of society to which they belong as a result of their job or social status.”the courses attracted people from all walks of life”
life of the party: someone who is very lively and amusing at a party or other social gathering.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade: a proverbial expression used to inspire optimism and a positive can-do attitude in the face of difficulty.
matter of life and death: something that is extremely important and often involves decisions that will determine whether someone lives or dies. For example: Being prepared for severe weather can be a matter of life and death.
alive and kicking: healthy and active. For example: She ran a marathon late in life, just to prove she was still alive and kicking.
Dead, Death, Die
kiss of death: an action or event that causes certain failure for an enterprise.
deadbolt: Deadbolts are considered to be secure locks that are difficult to open without a key.
dead serious: Completely serious, and not joking in any way. This phrase is usually used to implore the listener to believe the speaker. I’m dead serious—stop playing tricks on me!
dead give away: something that shows (the truth about something) clearly The camera is a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist.
drop dead gorgeous: If someone is described as drop dead gorgeous, it means they are really good looking.
dead end job: a job which does not offer any opportunity for improving your situation
dead wrong: If someone is dead wrong, they are absolutely in error.
wake the dead: To be extremely noisy and disruptive.
dead on: exactly right.
dead of night: the middle of the night. Example: She left in the dead of the night.
beat a dead horse: waste energy on a lost cause or a situation that cannot be changed.
brain dead: extremely stupid.
brush with death: a time or situation when someone was very close to dying
dancing on someone’s grave: to rejoice in that person’s death, to be happy that person has passed on
dead even: If people competing are dead even, they are at exactly the same stage or moving at exactly the same speed.
dead in the water: unable to function effectively.
dig one’s own grave: do something foolish that causes one to fail or be ruined.
kill with kindness: to cause discomfort to someone by treating him or her in a way that is extremely kind or helpful.
nail in the coffin: something that makes it more likely that someone or something will fail, be destroyed. Example: Every mistake is one more nail in the coffin of his professional baseball career.
over my dead body: If you say something will happen over your dead body, you mean that you will do everything you can to prevent it.
skeleton in the closet: a discreditable or embarrassing fact that someone wishes to keep secret.