Posted by Masakim on February 16, 2003
In Reply to: Light out and ride posted by the CyberSaddleTramp on February 16, 2003
: Recently, I was searching lyrics to a Mark Knopfler tune called "Camerado" and
found the line "light out and ride" misquoted frequently. I understood the phrase
to mean "get going", "get out of here fast" or "leave quickly". I have a sense
that I may have heard this from old "B" westerns I watched as a kid in the fifties.
I suspect it may have something to do with bandits around a campfire that would
have a posse come up on them and they would kill the light of the fire, mount
up on their horses and scatter in all directions. Or possibly, blowing out a latern
after saddling up in a barn and riding out.
: If you have ideas or have knowledge of the origin or meaning of this phrase, I would appreciate hearing them.
out v phr by 1870 To leave, esp hastily; = TAKE OFF, HIGHTAIL: "Jack, estranged
from his father by his brother's death in a helicopter crash, lights out for the
territories" -New York Times
This allusion to Huck Finn is not quite accurate. Mark Twain wrote "the territory" [fr earlier nautical _light out_, "move out, or move something out," of obscure origin; perhaps "move or move something lightly, quickly, handily"]
From _Dictionary of American Slang, Third Edition_ by Robert L. Chapman
Leaving the guard, the General had brought with him to protect the train, we mounted and "lit out," as rapid locomotion is called in that locality. (D.B.R. Keim, _Sheridan's Troopers on the Border_, 1870)