To look totally exhausted or ill.
The earliest use found is in the Soldier's War Slang Dictionary, published in 1939.
Soon after Ngaio Marsh used it in Death and the Dancing Footman (942): "I look like death warmed up and what I feel is nobody's business."
Ngaio Marsh, a contemporary of Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers, wrote 32 classic English detective stories over a 50-year-span from 1932-1982. Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, her first name is a Maori word, meaning "Reflections on the water."
In US English the norm is to say "death warmed over."
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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