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Re: Scared the living daylights out of me" come from.

Posted by Smokey Stover on December 24, 2006

In Reply to: Re: Scared the living daylights out of me" come from. posted by ESC on December 24, 2006

: : Where did the term "Scared the living daylights out of me" come from.

: I didn't know "daylights" was a dictionary word. But it is. Means "mental stability."
: http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/daylights

I have no quarrel with the use of "daylights" as explained in the cited dictionary. However, I would like to show what the Oxford English Dictionary says about it. The expression as used today seems to be the result of an evolutionary process.

s.v. daylight "4. pl. The eyes. Also in extended use of any vital organ. Also to beat, scare, etc., the (living) daylight(s) out of (a person), to beat, scare (a person) severely. slang.
1752 FIELDING Amelia I. x. (D.), If the lady says such another word to me..I will darken her daylights. 1821 Blackw. Mag. X. 586, I saw the storm..through my half-bunged-up daylights. 1848 E. BENNETT Mike Fink i. 10/1 We'll catch the fever and ager,..and that'll shake the day-lights out o' us. 1884 E. W. NYE Baled Hay 79 The driver bangs the mule, that is ostensibly pulling his daylights out...."
SS