In the turn of phrase "scared the living daylights out of me" what does "living daylights" refer to? Where does this particular idiom originate?
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.
Here's how it works:
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the "living daylights" was once slang for "the eyes". By extension, it came to mean "the senses".
So "scared the living daylights out of me" means "scared the senses out of me".