Harlem sunset

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Used in Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely (1940), suggesting the red colour of a sunset.

Noun[edit]

Harlem sunset (plural Harlem sunsets)

  1. (US, noir, rare) A fatal wound caused by a knife fight.
    • 1940, Raymond Chandler, Farewell, A. A. Knopf (1940), p. 14,
      One time there was five smokes carved Harlem sunsets on each other down on East Eighty-four.
    • 1972, Seamus Heaney, Soundings, Blackstaff Press (1972), p. 15,
      This wasn't some punk carving Harlem sunsets on a drugstore attendant. This was a professional job.
    • 2004 February 1, Desdemona, "{ASSM} Rough Cut: Chap 1 by Desdmona (crime drama)", alt.sex.stories.moderated, Usenet,[1]
      The blade had been inches from showing Moe a Harlem sunset. A longer knife, or an extra twist, and Moe would've bled to death before the meat wagon arrived.
    • Richard E. Sall, Straightjacket, p. 38,
      We had some mean turf wars with rival Latino and Italian gangs, and I've still got the scars to prove it: one under my left eye from some Romano's chain, and one just to the right of my right shoulder blade from some bitch who tried to give me a Harlem sunset –yup, that can happen in Detroit, too.