What does the idiom "in broad daylight" mean?

Are you using the idiom in broad daylight but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the in broad daylight idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "in broad daylight"


The phrase 'in broad daylight' is an idiom derived from a literal meaning of 'in broad sunlight'. It is used to refer to a situation or event that is happening in the open, and in a manner that is widely seen or noticed. It expresses a sense of disclosure, or the idea that something is not hidden or discreet. It is often used to describe a remarkable action or event, one which can't be ignored or overlooked.


The first recorded use of the phrase 'in broad daylight' can be found in the 1590 book "A Souldier's Exercise". It was written by English author Thomas Preston, who uses the phrase to refer to a figurative sense of a battle that is “fought in broad daylight”, rather than after the onset of nightfall. The phrase itself is likely derived from a literal meaning of ‘in broad sunlight’ - with 'broad' meaning 'wide' or 'Extended in width', and 'daylight' referring to the illumination provided by the brightness of day exposure.


The phrase 'in broad daylight' is generally used to suggest openness and visibility. It can be used in a variety of contexts, but its meaning is consistent across all of them. It can be used in a literal sense to refer to a situation or event that is happening outdoors in the bright of day - or, conversely, it can be used in a figurative sense, to describe an event or situation that is happening in the open, or publicly. For example, ‘The thief robbed the bank in broad daylight’ suggests that the crime was committed without any attempt to conceal it, as it could have been seen and noticed by anyone passing by. Similarly, ‘The government's corruption was exposed in broad daylight’ implies that the scandalous behaviour was not hidden or kept secret, but was instead made public and was, as such, widely seen and talked about.

Example Sentences

  • The government’s scandalous behaviour was exposed in broad daylight.
  • The thief robbed the store in broad daylight and nobody noticed.

The meanings of the words in the "in broad daylight" idiom

Idioms with similar meaning

"Don't judge a book by its cover" is an English idiom that means you shouldn't make assumptions about someone or something based solely on its appearance. In Japanese, the similar idiom is "Hana yori dango," which translates to "Dumplings rather than flowers." This idiom means that substance is more important than appearance.


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