beat the living daylights out of

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beat the (living) daylights out of (one)

1. To physically attack one, as with punches and other blows, such that they suffer significant injury. This phrase can be used both literally and hyperbolically. Our neighbor is in the hospital because a burglar beat the daylights out of him. I'm worried that the captain of the football team will beat the living daylights out of me if he finds out that I'm secretly seeing his girlfriend. Oh, my boyfriend knows that I would beat the living daylights out of him if he ever lies to me about something that serious.
2. To defeat one decisively in a competition. The final score was 17-1? Wow, we really beat the living daylights out of that team!
See also: beat, daylight, of, out
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

beat the living daylights out of

Also, knock or lick the hell or living daylights or shit or stuffing or tar out of . Administer a merciless beating to; also, defeat soundly. For example, The coach said he'd like to beat the living daylights out of the vandals who damaged the gym floor , or Bob knocked the stuffing out of that bully, or He swore he'd beat the tar out of anyone who tried to stop him. These colloquial phrases nearly always denote a physical attack. In the first, daylights originally (1700) meant "the eyes" and later was extended to any vital ( living) body organ. Thus Henry Fielding wrote, in Amelia (1752): "If the lady says another such words to me ... I will darken her daylights" (that is, put out her eyes). Hell here is simply a swear word used for emphasis. The more vulgar shit and the politer stuffing allude simply to knocking out someone's insides. Tar is more puzzling but has been so used since the late 1800s.
See also: beat, daylight, living, of, out
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

beat the living daylights out of, to

To punish severely, to thrash. This cliché is in effect a colorful elaboration of to beat someone up, an American locution dating from about 1900. The word daylights was a nineteenth-century American colloquialism for one’s vital organs. “That’ll shake the daylights out of us,” wrote Emerson Bennett (Mike Fink, 1852). Another writer referred to “pulling out” a mule’s daylights by beating it, and mystery writers of the early twentieth century sometimes had their characters “shoot the daylights” out of someone. Earlier British versions are to beat black and blue (Shakespeare), beat to a jelly (Smollett), and the equally hyperbolic beat to a pulp. Another American synonym is to beat the tar out of, which unlike the other fairly graphic equivalents is more puzzling, but has been used since about 1800.
See also: beat, daylight, living, out, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Glenn scared the living daylights out of a whole generation of men in the Eighties when she starred alongside Michael Douglas in the controversial Yes we would have no qualms about leaving our bunny in the hands of this woman.
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All this to satisfy individuals whose idea of pleasure is to blast the living daylights out of birds which are beaten across their path.
NO wonder we live in such a violent agewhen children so young are being encouraged to beat the living daylights out of each other.
Judging by its menacing looks, 20ins alloys and six second 0-60mph sprint time, it will scare the living daylights out of the cutesy South Korean motors we are used to seeing on our roads.
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