Old West History

“You’re a daisy if you do!” – A Guide to Doc Holliday Slang

“You’re a daisy if you do” and “You’re no daisy. No daisy at all.” are two Doc Holliday lines that people love to quote from the 1993 film, Tombstone. It’s lines like this that make Tombstone so memorable. Here’s a question for you though. Did you know that the real Doc Holliday used this phrase?

Doc Holliday has always been portrayed with plenty of charisma in the movies. Tombstone certainly would be the prime example. Not only does Doc Holliday get to be a bit wicked while also standing firmly loyal to Wyatt Earp, but he also uses all kinds of weird and wonderful phrases in his language. I’ve already written about the meaning and background to “I’m your huckleberry“. Now, I want to turn my attention to “You’re a daisy.”

What does “You’re a daisy if you do!” or “You’re no daisy. No daisy at all.” mean?

Simply put, “daisy” means the best or most marvelous. Kind of similar to saying that something is the cream of the crop.

Victorians and the “daisy” phrase

The use of daisy in conversation was not something that Doc Holliday made up. It was a fairly fashionable term in the late 1870s. If you look through old newspapers from the time period, there are plenty of references to people being daisies because they were doing something wonderful for their town. The Victorians had an obsession with flower language. Every flower was symbolic. Daisies represented purity and innocence. If you fancied someone and that interest was reciprocated with a bouquet of daisies, it meant that the gentleman thought you were wonderful. It would also imply they were interested in courting you and pursuing a relationship.

Did Doc really say “You’re a daisy?”

Yes, according to eyewitnesses of the gunfight and also to newspaper accounts, he did. During the gunfight Frank McLaury said “I’ve got you now, you son of a bitch.” at which Doc Holliday replied, “Blaze away, you’re a daisy if you have.”

newspaper clipping
Arizona Weekly Citizen’s article about the gunfight. October 30, 1881.

Daisy Cocktails

Around 1876, a cocktail called the Gin Daisy was invented. In 1887, the cocktail was included in The Bartender’s Guide by Jerry Thomas. Variations using whiskey and rum became popular right through the 1880s. These recipes included ingredients that have slipped from popularity now. I’ve included a couple in case you’d like to give them a go. I’m sure it will add to your pleasure while watching Tombstone!

Whiskey Daisy (from The Bartender’s Guide 1887)


  • 3 dashes gum syrup
  • 2 dashes Orgeat syrup
  • The juice of half a small lemon
  • 1 wine-glass of Bourbon, or rye whiskey


  1. Fill glass one-third full of shaved ice.
  2. Shake well, strain into a large cocktail glass, and fill up with Seltzer or Apollinaris water.

Gin Daisy


  • 2oz gin
  • 1oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1oz club soda
  • 3/4 oz grenadine
  • Ice


  1. Mix ingredients together in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Pour and drink.

By Elena Sandidge

Elena Sandidge is a Scottish novelist with a passion for the history of the Old West and the life of the legendary gunfighting dentist, Doc Holliday. "A Gentleman in Hell" chronicles the adventures of Doc Holliday as he travels from Dodge City, Kansas to Tombstone, Arizona and on to his final home in the mountains of Colorado

21 replies on ““You’re a daisy if you do!” – A Guide to Doc Holliday Slang”

I think you’ve misinterpreted Doc’s phrase “You’re a daisy if you do.” It is meant to be a threat to turn Frank McLaury into a daisy. “Pushing up daisies” is something corpses do by fertilizing them. Doc is smart enough to use and expand upon the original phrase and Frank would be familiar enough with it to understand the threat.

But je killed Johnny Ringo and then proceeds to say you’re no daisy at all. But according to your logic he should be a daisy because hes dead.

Yes, I agree Elena. I didn’t mean that he was completely suicidal but rather that he is portrayed as putting little value on his life. People with little to lose take bigger risks and are not so devastated at the prospect of the end.

Kawboy123 I’m afraid that’s the opposite of what Doc Holiday meant. He was dying of TB and like Ringo wanted revenge for being born. Doc was saying “if you end it all for me your a daisy”. He did not value his life at all.

I can see your point. In the film Tombstone, Doc was looking for a quick end to his suffering, but I think he was also calling Ringo out saying you’re a good one if you can do it.

Mythology has Doc as suicidal, but it reality he fought quite hard to extend his own life. He sought out good doctors and tried different health tonics such as the sulphur springs in Glenwood Springs and also the consumptive cures in New Mexico.

He was known to volunteer himself for posses and also any kind of political cause that was going. I think part of it perhaps was he enjoyed the adventure, but a lot of it was to take his mind off his condition and preoccupy himself with something that he believed in. One of the downsides of being a gambler is that it was extremely easy to get into trouble 😉 Thank you for your comment! I love hearing from people about Tombstone and Doc.

Doc saying” your a Daisy if you do” is him saying, if you challenge me, your going to die and then push up daisies or as others have said, fertilize the daisy. When he shot Johnny Ringo above his left eye, he said “come on, come on” That was to tease and antagonize him. Then he said “your no Daisy, your no daisy” I think he was telling Johnny Ringo in his last “somewhat consciousness” state that he was not a daisy because he was going to hell. Love the show

I agree with the writer. Holliday was giving stylish (for his time) back-talk. Though it had more drama and dignity, it did remind me of children on the playground:

Bet I can
bet you can’t
bet I can . . .

and so on.

Please guys/gals. it is not your a daisy or whatever else it’s coupled with. The phrase is ‘you are no daisy: it is a contraction – you’re. And Val Kilmer completely stole the film. I’d nominate his role as one of the most overlooked performance or a performance which should have received at least one, and possibly many others. Loved the close-ups of his sweats – great touch for the make-up.

Y’all have that totally wrong. It’s not threat. It’s an invitation. He means “I hope you kill me” but he is not suicidal so your going to have to beat him to kill him. That’s why at the end of the movie, he looks and at his feet with his boots off and says “I’ll be damned!” He was hoping someone would beat him and end his suffering, They would then be a daisy to him.

okay guys, lets use our brain here-doc uses it a few times.
Lets take each into context

“youre a daisy if you do”, staring down the gun after having shot out of ammo
Means youre the best – if you manage it – but notice how he tricks to delay and then shoot with his other gun (before morgan shoots same guy in the head)

“johnny – youre no daisy, no daisy at all”
Youre not the best if I killed you. notice how and when he says it – as rongo is hit in the head and already fallen.

So STFU you idiots with your misinterpretation and lack of common sense or a decent vernacular

aside from you being a complete dick, i’m gonna argue your point here. he was showing a fellow gunman almost his equal begrudging respect. With a bullet lodged in his skull, Ringo is fighting to stay upright to draw and fight. Doc says “you’re no daisy”, and his meaning is a twist on the common use of the turn- he’s saying you’re not a daisy, a good common man; you are a fighter, like me, and you’ll go down fighting.

If you can’t read between the lines to understand this, you should go back to the 80’s where everything is face value.

Anyone who thinks it refers to pushing up daisies is inaccurate. Its as defined by the author. Its a compliment albeit sarcastic in its use here. There was another scene in the movie where it was used that may put it into better context. When he is first introduced and gambling. He tosses down ” A Daisy of a hand”

How do you think the Daisy BB gun got its name. Look it up. Refers to “Really Good” Ringo was not.

You guys saying he’s a daisy cause he’ll be dead are WRONG!!!

HE IS SAYING: If you kill me, you’re a sweet-heart, angel, kind, courteous. Yes he didn’t want to die from TB. But he was suffering immensely i know the feeling. I’ve been in his spot pleading for death. But when death came my reflexes or some deep self preservation kicked in and always avoided death.

And if people ever threatened my life, i said something to the likeness, but if ever came to it, I’d be ready?and prepared to survive at all costs.

That’s why he said, “You’re a daisy if you do.”


You’re a daisy cause I’m going to kill you, or you’re gonna be a daisy.

He always put it like “you’re a daiay if you kill me.”

I think he meant “hat’s off to you if you do.” but sarcastically speaking. Meaning “hat’s off to you if you could kill me, but I doubt you really can.” It’s meant to be cocky, more so than suicidal. One could say All fearless people, have suicidal tendencies… But I don’t believe they want to die. To me, it’s more confidence that their skills will keep them alive in the end. His last line of I’ll be damned, was him just being disappointed he was dying in a hospital bed, instead of dying doing what he loved.

Doc is saying if you kill me you will have to come up out of the ground to do it Frank because you’re a dead man- and he was

The writer has obviously done her research of this phrase and the man that said it. Just because you watched the movie and interpreted Holliday’s phrases as what you think it means does not make you correct. The writers’ explanation makes more sense.

Shooting contests usually involved prize. Often a turkey. In a Turkey Shoot if the turkey died he was awarded to the winner. In some contests they had no prize to give away, so the best shot was given a daisy. When a BB gun company manufactured it’s first prototype, general manager Lewis Hough test fired the gun and exclaimed, “Boy, it’s a Daisy!”, and the new gun was named the “Daisy BB Gun”. It simply a way of saying Top Shot.

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