The use of 'in the day' in this paragraph puzzles me:

There were more than 800,000 horses on the Eastern Front in 1941. Mr Baxter said that, in the day, around 8,000 were being killed by enemy fire, the freezing temperatures or sheer over-exertion.

Does this mean 'in a day', and if so, is such usage correct?

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9516507/Rare-photos-Operation-Barbarossa-reveal-horrors-faced-Hitlers-troops.html

update: I believe that the intended meaning must have been either "in a day" or "around the time the picture was taken" (the paragraph is a caption for a picture (of a dying horse surrounded by soldiers)).

  • 1
    back in the day At a time in the past that is remembered with fondness or nostalgia. Back in the day, I used to spend my summers exploring or playing with friends. Now I'm in the office every day. From the Free Dictionary Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
    – Xanne
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 6:36
  • Googling this, I found no other examples of "in the day" being used in such a fashion. Looking in OED, I found no idiomatic meaning for the phrase "in the day." I believe it's a typo. I can only conjecture that it means "in a day," "during the day," or "in the daytime." Also, precedes that sentence with a stated fact and then in that sentence is indirectly reporting speech of this Mr. Baxter, those words could've come from Mr. Baxter, who may have been using the idiom "back in the day" to mean "in a day way back then," which would be an off-use of the idiom since it doesn't quite mean that. Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 13:22

2 Answers 2


As you suggested, I also think he means to say that "in the day" (in one day/across the duration of the day), about 8000 horses died.

At least contextually, this makes the most sense to me. They had 800000 horses and about 1% died each day.


I believe "in the day" in this case is the short version of "back in the day"... Being a nostalgic approach to their past.

"In a day" would be measuring the capacity of something. For example, "I can work three jobs in one day" or "We are running out of rice. There are some kids eating five bowls in one day (or in a day)."

  • @mood Incorporate a source into your answer, e.g., idioms.thefreedictionary.com/Back+in+the+Day
    – Xanne
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 7:04
  • 1
    I'm sure you're right in this case but "in the day" can also mean "in the day when the job, event, battle, etc was started." For instance "We will start at 6:00am and aim to complete the roof in the day" or "At Agincourt most of the French knights and noblemen were killed in the day".
    – BoldBen
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 7:14
  • Ah, my bad for not sourcing correctly. Thanks
    – mood
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 2:00

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