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English Idioms and Phrases: Daylight Robbery

Updated on January 12, 2013
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Meaning

When something is described as daylight robbery it refers to something that is very expensive and implies that it is an extortionate price or charge for something.

For example...

Customer: "How much is that car?"

Car Dealer: "£40,000"

Customer: "That's ridiculous, I can buy the same car for £20,000 down the road, that's daylight robbery!"

Origin

The origin of this phrase is debated a lot, but one common belief is that it dates as far back as the 18th and 19th century, when after England introduced a 'windows tax' in 1696 to help pay for the war efforts, mainly with France, and was judged on the number of windows in a persons house.

The more windows a house had, the higher the tax, which in turn saw a lot of home owners 'bricking-up' their windows to avoid paying money. Therefore people said the government was literally stealing the daylight from the windows.

There are many people who debate the origin of this phrase, but the first written recorded reference is in 1916 in Harold Bridgehouse's play Hobson's Choice.

Synonyms or Alternatives

Extortion, Extortionate.

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