stink to high heaven

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A hyperbole suggesting that a smell is so strong it can even be detected from heaven.



stink to high heaven (third-person singular simple present stinks to high heaven, present participle stinking to high heaven, simple past stank to high heaven or stunk to high heaven, past participle stunk to high heaven)

  1. To have a very strong and unpleasant smell.
    Synonyms: reek; see also Thesaurus:reek
    • 1975, Donald Goines, chapter I, in Swamp Man, Los Angeles, Calif.: Holloway House Publishing Company, published 2005, →ISBN, page 12:
      He could stand snakes, but alligators he disliked. It was the way they dragged their victims underneath the water and buried them, waiting until the corpse became rotten. That was the way they liked their meat—stinking to high heaven. The thought of such a death filled him with dread.
    • 1989 December 19, “Elvis stunk to high heaven & even wet his pants!: New shocker in blockbuster book”, in Eddie Clontz, editor, Weekly World News, volume 11, number 11, Lantana, Fla.: Weekly World News, Inc., ISSN 0199-574X, OCLC 987916929, page 12:
      Pill-popping rocker Elvis Presley was so hooked on drugs he refused to bathe for months on end, he often wet his pants – and he stunk to high heaven!
    • 2002 June, Patricia McConnell, “Planet Smell”, in The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do around Dogs, 1st trade paperback edition, New York, N.Y.: Ballantine Books, Random House, published May 2003, →ISBN, page 83:
      The next time Tulip [a dog] comes home smiling and stinking to high heaven of fox feces, I think I'm going to soak her in a bucket of Chanel No. 5. That'll teach her.
    • 2004, Mary Charles [pseudonym; Mary Hadley and Charles Martin], chapter 18, in The Reluctant Corpse, [Great Britain]: Twenty First Century Publishers, →ISBN, page 83:
      Despite the high powered air conditioners and fans he'd installed, the room was still hot, and it stank to high heaven. He'd have to throw his clothes in the wash and shower thoroughly after he got done with this job.
    • 2012, August Strindberg; David Eldridge, Charlotte Barslund, transl., Miss Julie: [], London; New York, N.Y.: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, Bloomsbury Publishing, →ISBN, page 20:
      It was you. I hid amongst the weeds and thistles and got scratched to pieces. I was wet and I stank to high heaven but I watched you.
    • 2014 June 26, John Bloxham, “Anal Glands”, in Dr Jack’s Dog Facts: A Guide to Common Canine Ailments, Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 32:
      Anal glands are actually small sacs, a pair, one on either side of the rectum. [...] The contents can range from a consistency of toothpaste to yucky liquid. It always stinks to high heaven; the odor is very difficult to wash off.
  2. (figurative) Of a person or situation: to be highly ethically dubious; also, of a person: to be very incompetent.


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