“Come to life” vs. “come alive”

I’ve heard both phrases used but would love to learn what the difference is and if one is more proper than the other.


The green paint really made it come [to life/alive].


In most contexts they’re equivalent and interchangeable. But imho come alive is somewhat more likely to be used figuratively, and come to life is more likely to be a literal usage. Thus…

The atmosphere in the cinema came alive when Frankenstein’s monster came to life
is far more likely than
The atmosphere in the cinema came to life when Frankenstein’s monster came alive

That’s 116+93=209 hits in Google Books for the two usages in the first example, and 4+77=81 hits for those in what I consider to be the “less idiomatic” second example.

Source : Link , Question Author : Davbog , Answer Author : FumbleFingers

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