“Broad daylight”

I was out running some errands earlier today, when the phrase “broad daylight” popped into my head. The more I thought about it, the more it irked me. It had never really occurred to me before, but it’s more of an idiom than a phrase that makes logical sense. Example sentence:

“Surely a thief would never try to mug someone in broad daylight.”

The Oxford English Dictionary gives a fairly simple definition of the word broad, which is typically (but not always) used as an adjective:

1. a. Extended in the direction measured from side to side; wide. Opposed to narrow.

So, if we have broad daylight, does that mean one can have narrow daylight, as well? What about daylight is broad? What about it could be narrow? The only thing I can think of that could be broad is the distance one could see, based on how bright (or dark) it is outside. But daylight itself being broad? I don’t get that at all. Even with the example of the distance one could see to, it really should be “how far” one can see, not how “wide” one can see. So even there, “broad daylight” doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

By |2007-03-13T15:28:55+00:00March 13th, 2007|Language Learning|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Douglas November 30, 2017 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    I was just thinking the same thing. It’s similar to when I hear someone say brand new. Glad I’m not the only person left on earth that thinks about these things.

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