Light out and ride

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.

light 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 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)