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I'm sure we're all aware of the literal meaning of "for days", as in "I haven't seen him for days", or "after Christmas we'll have turkey curry for days".

However, I've heard, over the course of the last year or so, "for days" used to say that something is great, usually (but not always) with regard to physical attractiveness, for example "she's got abs for days". Another popular phrase is "legs for days" (definitely Urban Dictionary).

I've struggled to search on this, as most use of "for days" is related to the literal meaning.

How long has this usage been around? The UD entry is from 2007, so obviously for longer than I've been noticing it.

From what culture did it emerge?

Also there is a potential related meaning of "a lot of", for example in this tweet: "I have puns for days", but that could also mean marvellous, I'm not sure.

Again in this tweet: "got mix ups for days".

Is that a different meaning or the same?

NB: for a topical reference for all three meanings, the Twitter tag #fordays is a good place to start.

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    I think your premise is possibly wrong. I only know of your "potentially related meaning" of "a lot of". This meaning works tangentially for both "abs for days" and "legs for days": "lots of abs" would mean "big abdominal muscles" and "lots of legs" would mean "long legs". The only example you've found where I can't make this work is your "makeup pics for days", which I cannot understand. – AndyT Jan 6 '17 at 16:45
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    @FumbleFingers - I don't think the two phrases are related. Rather, I'd say "legs for days" is a contracted form of "her legs go on for days", where "for days" is a long period of time (but used metaphorically to indicate a long length instead). Hmmm, perhaps this is the beginning of an answer as to its etymology, but it doesn't answer Matt's principle questions of "when" and "what culture". – AndyT Jan 6 '17 at 16:59
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    I agree with @AndyT that "for days" doesn't mean "marvellous", it just means "a lot of", and any complimentary connotation stems from it sometimes being used in contexts where "a lot of" is a good thing. – Marthaª Jan 6 '17 at 18:04
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    I’ve always thought of it as being a shortened form of “that go on for days”. I imagine it started out being applied only to things that were long (like legs) and gradually started getting applied more liberally to other things. – Jim Jan 6 '17 at 21:49
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    Jim, you are correct, it was short for, "go on for days", and it meant "very long". The adaptation to "abs" is a misappropriation of the phrase, either ignorantly, or purposefully. The idea being, legs that go on for days are long, and long legs on a woman are attractive, so abs that "go on for days" are abs that are attractive to men. That is the closest that "goes on for days" could mean "marvelous". – Sensii Miller Jan 25 '17 at 22:15
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Green's Dictonary of Slang identifies two senses of "for days," the first is an exclamation that originated in the U.S. LGBT community.

the orig[inal] implication was having sex continually, for day after day

  1. (gay) an excl[amation] implying shock or amazement.

The one citation under this sense is dated 1970.

The questionnaire was a list of terms known to the investigator and thought to have the greatest currency: trick, basket, box, camp, queen, Mercy! For days!

  • 1970 - J.P. Stanley ‘Homosexual Sl.’ in American Speech XLV:1/2 45

The second sense seems to more closely apply to the description in the question referring to "a lot of" something. This sense is described by GDoS as hailing from U.S. black culture as early as 1968 and with an attestation from 2002.

(orig. US black, also days!) a general intensifier implying an extreme, for a very long time, absolutely truthfully.

The 2002 usage is typical:

Six foot one with tight cornrows and curves for days.

  • 2002 - ‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 185

Although GDoS treats these as two separate senses of the phrase with two separate cultural contexts, I think it is worth noting that there tends to be significant cultural exchange between the two communities, and I'm inclined to speculate that the term originated in one culture and drifted to the other. My interpretation of Green's entries and the note on the "original implication" is that he views the phrase as firmly rooted in LGBT culture.

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In my experience as an American teen, "For Days" is merely a slang term meaning "a lot", or "many".

e.g. "Duuude, we have eggs for days."

meaning: "My friend, we have a whole lot of eggs."

It is sometimes used to describe several nice things, which may have caused your confusion.

e.g. "He got cars for days"

meaning: "He has a couple of nice cars"

Keep in mind that this term is teenage slang, and subject to change over time.

protected by Mari-Lou A Jan 20 '17 at 20:41

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