draw and quarter
Punish severely, as in Mom'll draw and quarter me if even one scratch appears on her new car. This expression alludes to two brutal forms of execution practiced in the past. In one the victim was drawn by a horse to a gallows, hanged, and then cut into four pieces and scattered; in the other the victim was hanged, disemboweled while still alive (drawn), and then beheaded and dismembered. In both the victim was said to be . Today the term is usually used hyperbolically.
|draw and quarter|
|pull (a person) apart with four horses tied to his extremities, so as to execute him; "in the old days, people were drawn and quartered for certain crimes" [syn: draw]|