Green’s Dictionary of Slang

daylights n.

1. the eyes, occas. in sing.

[UK]Life and Character of Moll King 12: I shall see my jolly old Codger [...] with his Day-lights dim, and his Trotters shivering under him.
[UK]G. Stevens ‘A Cant Song’ Muses Delight 177: I tipt her the velvet, her daylights she rolld, / She said I must love you, you’re quiddish and bold.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 29: The hero in his tent they found, / His day-lights fix’d upon the ground.
[UK]‘Roger Ranger’ Covent Garden Jester 19: ‘Why, last night, in the dark, I run’d my nose into that there snatch, sir,’ replied the sailor, pointing towards Lucy, ‘’twas that caulked up my day-lights, sir.’.
A Fortnight’ s Ramble through London 11: We were suddenly surprized with an insonorous voice, exclaiming, ‘D—n your daylights, stop the coach!’.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Nov. XXV 103/1: Open your day-lights, and peep on the sun’s slanting beam.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 18: Clicks in the gob, / And plumps in the daylights.
[US]R. Waln Hermit in America on Visit to Phila. 2nd series 107: He must be a ‘bruiser’ withal, and [...] mill his man, fib his nob, spill claret, darken day-lights and plump peepers!
[UK]cartoon caption in J. Winston Drury Lane Jrnl May 16: Help! Assist the Manager to douse his daylights.
[UK]Pierce Egan’s Life in London 24 Oct. 309/2: Pat’s daylight was so bad as merely to enable him to discern a confused sight of the object before him.
[Aus]Australian (Sydney) 4 July 3/3: The fire of intrepidity glanced from their ‘daylights’.
[UK]Satirist (London) 8 May 35/1: [H]e spat full in his face, telling him at same time to hold up his head and he would knock his day-lights out.
[UK]‘A Grand Turn-Out’ in Randy Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) I 188: Jack’s none so dusty [...] Dick’s closed his daylights, though.
[US]N.Y. Transcript 4 Feb. 2/2–3: M’Lean hit him heavily over his day-lights, and he fell.
De Black Man’s Lub Song 1: But ’stead of kiss, / Catch’d stroke of fis’ – as large as dis, / Closed up my lights of day, Ma’am.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 23 Sept. 3/4: His daylights were closed, and he was very much distressed by his exertions to win the fight.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1982) I 118: He told Verdant, that his claret had been repeatedly tapped, his bread-basket walked into, his day-lights darkened.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 7 Apr. 4/2: He got the right well home on Dan’s daylights.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 314/1: day lights, [...] les yeux. I have darkened his day lights, je lui ai poché les yeux.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 23: Day Lights, the eyes.
[UK]J. Caminada Twenty-Five Years of Detective Life II 319: He would have [...] gloried in the closing of the pugilist’s ‘peepers,’ the shutting out of his ‘daylight’.
[US]J.W. Carr ‘Word-List from Hampstead, N.H.’ in DN III iii 186: daylights, n. Eyes. Used in v. phr. to knock one’s daylights out.

2. the insides; the essence; usu. in combs. involving fear and/or violence, see phrs. below.

[US]Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (NY) 15 Mar. 2/2: I will see you castrated, and you day-lights placed on the tip-top of the Philadelphia State-dome.
[US]J.C. Neal Charcoal Sketches (1865) 134: I’ve been serving my country [...] going to town meetings, hurraing my daylights out, getting as blue as blazes.
[US] ‘Etan Spike’s Visit to Portland’ in Burke Polly Peablossom’s Wedding 115: That ere darned stuff of your’n is freezin up my daylights.
[US]C.H. Smith Bill Arp 42: One day might be while enough for my daylights to be shelled out.
[US]M.A. Owen Voodoo Tales 64: Lay down an’ lemme tromple de lights outen yo’.
[UK]R.D. Paine Fighting Fleets 378: He won’t be happy till I blow the daylights out of a submarine.
R.D. Paine Comrades of the Rolling Ocean 22: Putting seven of ’em in irons after they shot the daylights out of me left us mighty short-handed [OED].
[US]Rotarian May 14: When two fighters go into a ring, the chief objective of each one is to ‘punch the daylights’ out of the other. It would not be a fight with any other objective.
[UK]Wodehouse Mating Season 91: The morose, sullen Fink-Nottle who had [...] panned the daylights out of Pat and Mike.
[US]J. Thompson Criminal (1993) 15: It startled the daylights out of her.
[US]Hughes & Bontemps Book of Negro Folklore 363: He told me he could whip / The living daylights out of you.
[US]P. Gent North Dallas Forty 147: Maxwell was screwing the daylights out of my bedmate.
[US]L. Heinemann Paco’s Story (1987) 171: Paco hears Cathy honey-fucking the everlasting daylights out of some guy [...] the lovely sounds of their fucking filling the room.
[UK]Guardian Travel 30 Oct. 7: I used to get the living daylights scrubbed out of me there every Saturday.

In phrases

beat the (living) daylight(s) out of (v.) (also bash..., belt..., kick..., knock..., punch..., shake..., thrash..., wallop, whale)

to beat severely.

[UK]J. Labern ‘The Man For a Family’ Comic Songs 24: They play at cockshy with my plates / And then knock the daylights thro’ my dishes.
[Ire]Cork Examiner 27 Aug. 1/7: He [...] threatened to kick his teeth down his throat and get one of the villagers to kick the daylights out of him.
[US]E. Bennett Mike Fink 10/1: We’ll catch the fever and ager [...] and that’ll shake the day-lights out o’ us [OED].
[US]G.W. Peck Peck’s Bad Boy and His Pa (1893) 297: Ma’s mother used to warm her ears, and shake the daylights out of her.
[UK]Hants. Teleg. 23 Feb. 9/6: The teacher said he must not confound the good dogs of Bible time with the savage beasts of the present day — that would shake the daylights out of Lazarus.
[US]F. Hutchison Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 83: ‘[T]hey [i.e. the police] whaled the daylights out o’ him because he wouldn't talk’.
[US]J.W. Carr ‘Word-List from Hampstead, N.H.’ in DN III iii 192: knock one’s daylights out, v. phr. To blacken one’s eye, to deal one a blow on the eye. ‘He told him he’d knock his daylights out.’.
[US]R.E. Howard ‘Pit of the Serpent’ Fight Stories July 🌐 Knock the daylights out of the blank-blank that’s pretendin’ to referee this bout.
[US]S. Ornitz Haunch Paunch and Jowl 37: I betcha you could knock daylight outa him even if he is your big brother.
Palm Beach Post (FL) 16 Apr. 6/2: [A] production that wallops theliving daylights out of any comedy drama.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 267: Get one into the cell and bash daylight out of him, and if there was half a chance, cut and run for it.
[UK]R. Westerby Wide Boys Never Work (1938) 28: I’ll kick the daylights out of you if you start anything with me.
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 117: Ern and I’ll be round at your old man’s shop and knock the eternal daylight out of the both of you.
[UK]W. Watson Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (2000) 23: He’s liable to beat the daylight out of me.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 55: He could stay and knock the daylight out of the glib rat who had broken up his home, but what would be the use of that?
[Aus]D. Stivens Courtship of Uncle Henry 176: ‘Don’t you lie to me,’ he said and gave my arm a twist. ‘Out with it or I’ll belt the living daylights out of you.’.
Mercury (Pottsdown, PA) 23 May 4/2: The horn [...] shakes the living daylights out of you.
[US]Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) 29 Mar. 14/7: The lads [...] proceded to wallop the daylights out of those poor Louisville boys.
[Aus]‘Neville Shute’ Town Like Alice 195: Pa’ll beat the daylights out of me when he hears.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 49: He thrashed the lights out of me with a dirty big razor strop.
[US]W.P. McGivern Big Heat 60: You made All-America [...] by knocking the daylights out of the Eastern teams.
[Aus]P. White Tree of Man (1956) 76: He will belt the daylights out of the horse.
Honolulu Star-Bull. (HI) 26 Apr. 3/1: ‘Don’t break it, or I shall be forced to bash the living daylights out of you’.
[UK](con. 1920s) J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 47: The Strangeways screws [...] will spend some time knocking the daylights out of us.
[UK]P. Willmott Adolescent Boys of East London (1969) 57: Just don’t take it too far, is what I think – don’t knock the daylights out of it.
[Aus]J. Wynnum I’m a Jack, All Right 32: If they hear it from you, I’ll belt the daylights out of you.
[Ire]T. Murphy Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer’s Assistant (1978) Scene ix: I’ll kick the daylights out of them!
[Aus] in K. Gilbert Living Black 34: They’s belt the livin’ daylights out of you, mate.
[US]Seguin Gaz.-Enterprise (TX) 19 Jan. 7/3: He encoueraged votr sto ‘take your government back and shake the living daylights out of it’s.
[UK]J. Campbell Gate Fever 114: I’ll kick the living daylights out of you!
[Ire](con. 1920s) L. Redmond Emerald Square 8: ‘If yeh don’t stop that racket,’ said my mother [...] ‘I’ll beat the bloody daylight out of yeh.’.
Albuquerque Jrnl (NM) 23 Mar. 19/1: We got a bunch of large grown men [to] smash, bash, dropkick and wallop the living daylights out of each other.
[UK]Guardian 21 Aug. 15/4: ‘If I had my way, I’d wallop the living daylights out of the thugs’.
[US]St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) 23 Feb. 28/2: Hide says [...] ‘I’m not a pussycat. I’ll beat the living daylights out of him’.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 408: Walloping the living daylights out of some poor bastard!
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 22 Dec. 71/2: Gai Waterhouse is going to shake the living daylights out of the Magic Millions.
[US]Hartford Courant (CT) 5 May 23/1: Susie’s brother Jake could kick the living daylights out of Joe.
Honolulu Star Advertiser (HI) 29 Jan. 8/2: A coach is [...] not someone who’s going to beat the living daylights out of you.
[Aus]B. Matthews Intractable [ebook] I punched the living daylights out of Joey.
[US]Orlando Sentinel (FL) 8 June n.p.: They pour paint on three giant drumheads and then bash the living daylights out of those drums, sending paint flying.
[US]Longview News Jrnl (TX) 1 Apr. H4/2: You don’t just walk up to the local bully and slap him [...] you try to knock the living daylights out of him.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI) 16 Mar. B3/4: Sometimes it is two guys trying to belt the living daylights out of each other.
darken someone’s daylights (v.) (also ...skylights, dark)

1. to black someone’s eye.

[UK]Fielding Amelia (1926) I 57: If the lady says such another word to me, d--n me, I will darken her daylights.
[UK]G. Stevens ‘A Cant Song’ Muses Delight 177: I darken’d his daylights, and sew’d up his sees, / And up with my dew-beaters tript him.
Microcosm No. 2 n.p.: The nobility and the gentry were taught [...] to bruise the bodies, and [...] to darken the daylights off each other, with the vigour of a Hercules, tempered with the grace of an Apollo [F&H].
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 3: If to level, to punish, to ruffian mankind, / And to darken their daylights, be pleasures refin’d [...] To close up their eyes – alias, to sow up their sees.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London II 149: Go it Kate!—Handle your dawdles, my girl;—shiver her ivory;—darken her skylights;—flatten her sneizer;—foul, foul,—ah you Munster b—ch!
[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 200: So here’s at darkening his daylights for the advantage of his mummer.
[US]Spirit of the Times (NY) 4 Feb. 1/2: Darken his daylights [...] make the sun shine through him.
[UK]Satirist (London) 4 Nov. 357/2: [He] was charged [with] seducing, a Miss Rolfe, and afterwards with ‘darkening the day-lights’ of her father.
[US]‘Jack Downing’ Andrew Jackson 70: I’ll darken your daylights for you.
[Scot]Caledonian Mercury 16 Nov. 3/6: The denizens on the shore have [...] an apprehension that the vessels would float onto the quay, and, reeling over, completely darken their day-lights.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 57: Faked it rumbo: copped the lob, darked the hommo of the cassey, and scarpered with the swag.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US]N.Y. Clipper 21 Jan. 3/2: Strike the devil a straight blow, and darken his spiritual daylights!
[Ire]Cork Examiner 16 Sept. 3/6: A Shareholder [...] roared that if the chirman dared to call him Miss Lucy, he would come round and darken his daylights.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Bury & Norwich Post 23 Nov. 8/2: deceased [...] challenged Turner to fight, saying he ‘would darken his daylights’.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. (2 edn) 3: Daylights - Eyes. To ‘darken his daylights,’ to blacken his eyes.

2. used as an oath.

[UK]Belle’s Stratagem 12: None of your rhino riggs — darken my day-lights but I’d give you up all your notes for half the ready .
frighten the (living) daylights out of (v.) (also scare...)

to terrify.

[US]Pop. Science Apr. 84: That was my first accident and it sure did scare the daylights out of mep.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 17 Nov. [synd. col.] Every now and then a sixteen-year-old from the finishing schools scares the living daylights out of the parents with a bleat on what goes on behind those walls.
[US]‘F. Bonnamy’ A Rope of Sand (1947) 190: I’d be tempted to take a potshot at those youngsters. Scare the living daylights out of them.
[UK]B. MacMahon Children of the Rainbow 90: The devil’s skewer to you! [...] You frightened the daylights out o’ me!
[US]W. Fisher Waiters 209: ‘W-h-e-e!’ Hattie exploded. ‘It like to scared the livin’ daylights outa me there for a hot minute.’.
[UK]P. Terson Night to Make the Angels Weep (1967) II xiv: Bring him here and scare the bloody daylights out of him. Man, crush him and you’ll have the village cap in hand.
[UK]‘Hergé’ Tintin and the Picaros 29: And that scares the living daylights out of them!
[Aus]M. Bail Holden’s Performance (1989) 311: The shot was aimed to wing me in the leg, or scare the living daylights out of me.
[Ire](con. 1930s) K.C. Kearns Dublin Tenement Life 199: Oh, the hair stood up on me head and the sweat run out of me! Frightened the living daylights out of me.
[UK]J. Hoskison Inside 45: Scares the living daylights out of me.

In exclamations

damn your daylights!

mid-general derog. oath.

[Scot]Scots Mag. 6 June 39/2: The crowd was tickled with the notion to see them poise their fists in the air, / And [...] cry ‘Damn your daylights, look you here!’.
[UK]Fortnights Ramble through London 11: D—n your day-lights, stop the coach!