What is the meaning of expression "won't stand the light of day"?

Can I say my solution to this problem won't stand the light of day... meaning that I just ducktaped my way out of some problem and the fix is understood to be temporary ?

  • Sounds a little bit dramatic. There is sunlight every day. So your fix would be very temporary.
    – Helmar
    Sep 12, 2016 at 14:14
  • 2
    Like Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass, you can say what you like and mean by it what you like; the difficulty is conveying your intended meaning to other users of English. And won’t stand the light of day is less likely to convey fragility in the face of hard use or strain than something shady or shameful, unready to face full scrutiny. Sep 12, 2016 at 14:18

2 Answers 2


Your understanding is correct.

The phrase is often expressed as [this thing] won't stand up to scrutiny in the cold light of day. It means, more or less, that while [this thing] may appear at the moment to be good or sufficient, once it is examined properly in a critical fashion, it will be found to be unsatisfactory.

An example of the phrase used in a reputable publication can be found here in Gramophone Magazine, discussing a recording of a live musical performance:

Of course, a greatly stirring live performance does not necessarily survive the transfer to CD and many things here don’t stand up to close scrutiny in the cold light of day.

  • Can you add the link(s) to the appropriate online source(s)? Sep 12, 2016 at 14:17
  • @alwayslearning - Done!
    – Charl E
    Sep 12, 2016 at 14:26

"in the cold light of day" is an idiomatic phrase

  • If you think about something in the cold light of day, you think about it clearly and calmly, without the emotions you had at the time it happened, and you often feel sorry or ashamed about it. CD


  • "The next morning, in the cold light of day, I realized I had made a fool of myself."

"can't stand the light of day" means "will be considered dishonest, wrong or ridiculous when disclosed.

"my solution to this problem won't stand the light of day.." can be understood as "my solution to this problem is far from flawless and will fall to pieces when analyzed."

Examples from the literature:

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