Daylight Robbery

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Daylight Robbery

Post by Bobinwales » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:01 pm

I have been looking for the origin of the expression, "Daylight robbery". I have read on line that it began when George III imposed the window tax, but it sounds like a backronym to me. Does anyone have any ideas?
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Re: Daylight Robbery

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:45 pm

My surmise is that the term is intended to emphasise the shamelessness of an instance of price gouging by comparing it to the shamelessness of a robbery carried out in full view rather than under the cover of darkness.

I agree that the 'window tax' explanation stinks... of folk etymology.
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Re: Daylight Robbery

Post by tony h » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:09 pm

Erik_Kowal wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:45 pm

I agree that the 'window tax' explanation stinks... of folk etymology.
Also, with the window tax being introduced in 1696 (Wikipedia) and day-light robbery first being quoted in 1804 (OED) I would have expected a shorter gestation if that explanation were to be true.
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Re: Daylight Robbery

Post by Phil White » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:36 pm

Michael Quinion has had a look at it here. He also just takes the figurative meaning. Nothing to do with windows.
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Re: Daylight Robbery

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:04 pm

I just recalled that I had discussed “Daylight Robbery” in a posting many moons ago (see daylight robbery). It is always a good idea before posting to do a search to see if the topic has been previously discussed.

Just for the record, I’ll provide the OED’s definitions here and a few more recent quotes:

Oxford English Dictionary

1. A robbery committed during daylight hours, often characterized as particularly conspicuous or risky; the action or practice of committing this type of robbery. Also in extended use. [[1804]]

2. colloquial (orig. and chiefly British). Blatant and unfair overcharging or swindling. Also occasionally: an instance of this. [[1863]]

3. Chiefly Sport. The action or an act of depriving someone of advantage or victory undeservedly or unfairly. [[1897]]
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Recent quotes from newspaper archives:
<2016 “Gunman pulls off daylight robbery: A Family Dollar store . . . was robbed by a man with a gun in broad daylight Thursday. Police say daylight robberies are rare, and this store is in an area with a lot of apartment buildings and a lot of foot traffic . . .”—Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois), 2 April, page 1>

<2017 “When New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Kuis Robles made what would later was voted the 2014 Major League Soccer save of the year – two saves, in fact, on one attack by the Seattle Sounders — the ESPN commentator uttered the phrase ‘daylight robbery.’ It was, in fact, pure theft.”—Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Arizona), 2 July, page Boo1>

<2017 “If the tax cut passes, it will constitute the largest heist in human history. This is daylight robbery by the super-rich against the rest of society . . .” —Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), 14 November, page A10>

<2019 “Daylight Robbery ... and Not a Penny of Fees Goes to the NHS[/b]:
The issue of bedside television charges in hospitals was highlighted when I recently visited Raigmore to see a friend, . . . I tried to cheer him up by saying that at least he had a bedside television; his response was a wry laugh. He asked me why I thought it possible he would be able to pay the 9.90 [pound sterling] a day needed to watch it. I had no idea the daily charge actually exceeded the monthly costs for internet television services.”—Daily Mail (London), 18 January)>
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Re: Daylight Robbery

Post by tony h » Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:53 pm

I wonder if there is rather more to "daylight robbery" than I expected.

In "The Universal Officer of Justice" of 1731 (and others) it refers to occasions where "a robbery is done by daylight" and goes on to mention how the local community (the Hundred. A hundred or similar wapentake was a division of a County or Shire) will be taxed for the compensation.

From this one might imagine that "daylight robbery" was derived from the criminal offence or from the subsequent taxation. And, possibly, from both.

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=-Ts ... ry&f=false

P.S. I am not sure whether I have used taxation correctly or whether some other word describes the action better. Either way I hope the meaning is clear.
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Re: Daylight Robbery

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Apr 22, 2019 5:12 pm

Tony,
Excellent piece of research!! And I agree as you said:
<“From this one might imagine that ‘daylight robbery’ was derived from the criminal offence or from the subsequent taxation. And, possibly, from both.”>
The subsequent taxation could nicely cover the figurative meaning of an excessive financial demand depending, of course, if the amount was, indeed, considered to be so by those taxed, which we don’t know.

The question of the lag time between its appearance in this 1751 book and the OED’s 1804 first appearance is disturbing, but it could be that if the law continued in existence for several decades, it took time to build up enough of a head of steam to become generally discussed more widely.

But this is definitely an earlier legitimate instance of its use than cited by the OED (1804 for literal, 1863 for figurative).

I think you should contact the OED and point out your discovery. I have done so in the past and they have always responded.
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Re: Daylight Robbery

Post by tony h » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:23 am

Ken Greenwald wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 5:12 pm
Tony,


I think you should contact the OED and point out your discovery. I have done so in the past and they have always responded.
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Ken Greenwald – April 22, 2019
Well that's a new experience. I have submitted the information on their online form.



During this I also discovered that robbery requires an element of threat. So pickpocketing is not robbery but drawing your pistol and calling out "stand and deliver", as prescribed in The Penguin Guide to Highwaymanship, is.
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