Meaning of EYE in English

I. eye 1 S1 W1 /aɪ/ BrE AmE noun

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: eage ]

1 . FOR SEEING WITH [countable] one of the two parts of the body that you use to see with:

He’s got beautiful eyes.

There were tears in her eyes as she listened to the story.

Ow! I’ve got something in my eye!

blue-eyed/one-eyed/bright-eyed etc

a brown-eyed girl

⇨ ↑ wide-eyed

2 . WAY OF SEEING/UNDERSTANDING [countable usually singular] a particular way of seeing, judging, or understanding something:

Go through your shopping list with a critical eye for foods with a high fat content.

with the eye of somebody

The magazine combines the accuracy of the scientist with the eye of the artist.

to sb’s eye(s)

The picture quality, to my eye, is excellent.

through the eyes of somebody (=from the point of view of a particular person)

The story is told through the eyes of a refugee child.

in the eyes of somebody (=according to a particular person or group)

Carl could do no wrong in the eyes of his parents.

3 . keep an eye on something/somebody to look after someone or something and make sure that they are safe:

Mary will keep an eye on the kids this afternoon.

We keep a watchful eye on our elderly neighbors.

4 . have/keep your eye on somebody to carefully watch everything that someone does, especially because you do not trust them:

We want Taylor in jail where we can keep an eye on him.

5 . eye contact when you look directly at someone at the same time as they are looking at you:

People who are lying tend to avoid eye contact.

In a formal interview, try to maintain good eye contact with the interviewers.

6 . keep/have one eye/half an eye on somebody/something to be watching someone or something at the same time that you are doing something else:

Louise was stirring the soup with half an eye on the baby.

7 . have your eye on something to want something that you think might become available:

He has his eye on the bigger apartment next door.

8 . the naked eye if you can see something with the naked eye, you can see it without using any artificial help such as a ↑ telescope or ↑ microscope

with the naked eye

It’s just about possible to see the planet with the naked eye on a clear night.

visible/invisible to the naked eye

Dust mites are tiny creatures, invisible to the naked eye.

9 . before your very eyes ( also (right) in front of your eyes ) especially spoken if something happens before your very eyes, it happens where you can clearly see it:

The murder had apparently taken place before our very eyes.

10 . can’t take your eyes off somebody/something to be unable to stop looking at someone or something, especially because they are extremely interesting or attractive:

She looked stunning. I couldn’t take my eyes off her all evening.

11 . under the (watchful/stern etc) eye of somebody while being watched by someone who is making sure that you behave properly or do something right:

We went to dances, but only under the watchful eye of our father.

12 . run/cast your eye over something to look at something quickly:

She cast her eye over the front page of the paper.

13 . set/lay/clap eyes on somebody/something spoken to see something or meet someone, especially for the first time:

I loved that house from the moment I clapped eyes on it.

14 . keep an eye open/out (for somebody/something) to watch carefully so that you will notice when someone or something appears:

Keep an eye out for rabbits in the field.

15 . with an eye to (doing) something if you do something with an eye to doing something else, you do it in order to make the second thing more likely to happen:

Most novels are published with an eye to commercial success.

16 . close/shut your eyes to something to ignore something or pretend that you do not know it is happening:

Most governments know that we’re heading for an environmental catastrophe but they shut their eyes to it.

17 . have an eye/a good eye for something to be good at noticing a particular type of thing, especially something attractive, valuable, of good quality etc:

Ernest has an eye for detail.

She’s definitely got a good eye for a bargain.

18 . keep your eyes peeled/skinned spoken to watch carefully and continuously for something

keep your eyes peeled/skinned for

She stumbled along, keeping her eyes peeled for a phone box.

19 . with your eyes open knowing fully what the problems, difficulties, results etc of a situation might be:

I’ve no-one to blame but myself – I went into this deal with my eyes open.

20 . can do something with your eyes shut/closed to be able to do something very easily:

Believe me, you could run that place with your eyes closed.

21 . make eyes at somebody/give somebody the eye informal to look at someone in a way that shows you think they are sexually attractive:

Don’t look now, but that guy over there is really giving you the eye.

22 . an eye for/on/to the main chance if you have an eye for the main chance, you will take advantage of any possible opportunity to get what you want – used to show disapproval

23 . one in the eye for somebody British English spoken something that will annoy someone or give them a disadvantage – used especially when you think this is a good thing:

This latest judgement will definitely be one in the eye for the fast food corporations.

24 . an eye for an eye the idea that if someone does something wrong, you should punish them by doing the same thing to them:

An eye for an eye is no way to run a civilised justice system.

25 . for sb’s eyes only used to say that something is secret and must only be seen by one particular person or group:

The information is for police eyes only.

26 . have eyes in the back of your head to know what is happening all around you, even when this seems impossible:

We’ll have to be really careful – old Jonesey has eyes in the back of his head.

27 . get/keep your eye in British English informal to practise or to continue practising an activity so that you become good at it

28 . have eyes like a hawk to notice every small detail or everything that is happening, and therefore be very difficult to deceive:

We never got away with anything in Mrs. Podell’s class – she had eyes like a hawk.

29 . his/her etc eyes were popping (out of his/her etc head) British English especially spoken to be very surprised, shocked, or excited by something you see

30 . be up to your eyes in something British English informal to be very busy doing something:

He’s up to his eyes in paperwork.

31 . have eyes bigger than your belly spoken used to say that you have taken more food than you are able to eat

32 . only have eyes for somebody if someone only has eyes for someone, they love and are interested in that person only

33 . my eye! old-fashioned spoken used to say that you do not believe something

34 . all eyes are on/watching/fixed on etc

a) used to say that everyone is looking at someone or something:

All eyes were on the speaker, and nobody noticed me slip into the hall.

b) used to say that a lot of people are paying attention to a particular person or situation:

For the time being, all eyes are on the White House.

35 . in a pig’s eye! American English spoken used to show that you do not believe what someone is saying

36 . CAMERA [singular] the eye of the camera is the way that you appear in photographs:

Fashion models are completely comfortable with the eye of the camera.

37 . NEEDLE [countable] the hole in a needle that you put the thread through

38 . FOR FASTENING CLOTHES [countable] a small circle or U-shaped piece of metal used together with a hook for fastening clothes

39 . STORM [singular] the calm centre of a storm such as a ↑ hurricane

40 . POTATO [countable] a dark spot on a potato that a new plant can grow from

⇨ BIRD’S-EYE VIEW , ↑ black eye , ↑ Catseye , ↑ private eye , ↑ red eye , ⇨ the apple of sb’s eye at ↑ apple (2), ⇨ not bat an eye at ↑ bat 2 (2), ⇨ turn a blind eye (to something) at ↑ blind 1 (3), ⇨ see something out of the corner of your eye at ↑ corner 1 (8), ⇨ the evil eye at ↑ evil 1 (5), ⇨ give somebody the glad eye at ↑ glad (6), ⇨ look somebody in the eye/face at ↑ look 1 (7), ⇨ in your mind’s eye at ↑ mind 1 (40), ⇨ here’s mud in your eye at ↑ mud , ⇨ open sb’s eyes (to) at ↑ open 2 (17), ⇨ in the public eye at ↑ public 1 (4), ⇨ make sheep’s eyes at at ↑ sheep (4), ⇨ a sight for sore eyes at ↑ sight 1 (14), ⇨ in the twinkling of an eye at ↑ twinkling , ⇨ keep a weather eye on at ↑ weather 1 (5), ⇨ pull the wool over sb’s eyes at ↑ wool (4)

• • •


■ colour

▪ brown/blue/grey/green

Both their children have blue eyes.

▪ dark brown/pale brown

His eyes are dark brown.

▪ deep blue/pale blue

She looked into his deep blue eyes.


The tiny child 's pale blue eyes stared up at her appealingly.

▪ hazel (=pale brown and slightly green or golden)

He was a quiet, kindly man, with hazel eyes.

▪ sleepy/tired ( also weary literary )

He rubbed his tired eyes and yawned.

▪ moist/watery/tearful (=full of tears)

Bethan’s eyes grew moist as she talked about her family.

▪ sad

He gazed at her with sad eyes as she slowly walked away.

▪ cold/cruel (=unfriendly or unkind)

He smiled, but his blue eyes were cold and cruel.

■ shape/position

▪ big

She looked at me with those big brown eyes.

▪ small

His small cold eyes seemed full of menace.

▪ round/wide

The children gazed at the screen, their eyes wide with excitement.

▪ narrow

He has a thin face and narrow eyes.

▪ bulging (=round and sticking far out)

His bulging eyes made him rather look like a frog.

▪ beady eyes (=small round and bright, and noticing a lot of things)

His beady eyes darted around the room.

▪ deep-set (=far back in someone's face)

Mac’s eyebrows were thick and dark, above deep-set eyes.

▪ close-set (=close together)

He had a small nose and close-set eyes.

▪ wide-set (=wide apart)

Claudette studied the wide-set eyes that looked so innocent.

▪ sunken (=having fallen inwards, especially because of age or illness)

The man's eyes were sunken, with deep black rings around them.

■ showing your feelings/character

▪ sleepy/tired

His eyes looked sleepy.


Her hair was a mess and her eyes were tired.

▪ sad

Her beautiful eyes suddenly looked sad.

▪ tearful/moist/misty (=feeling that you want to cry)

As she left a village, people waved at her with tearful eyes.

▪ bright (=happy or excited)

the bright eyes of the children

▪ cold (=unfriendly and not showing any emotion)

Her eyes were cold and uncaring.

▪ red/bloodshot (=red because you are upset, tired, ill etc)

My mother's eyes were red from crying.

▪ puffy (=swollen because you are ill or upset)

The girl's eyes were puffy and full of tears.

▪ soulful eyes (=showing strong emotions, especially sadness)

The dog looked up at her with big soulful eyes.

▪ wild/mad eyes (=very angry, afraid etc)

He stared at them with wild eyes.

▪ hungry/greedy eyes (=showing that you want something very much )

The men looked around the room with their greedy eyes.

■ verbs

▪ open your eyes

I slowly opened my eyes.

▪ sb’s eyes open

Suddenly his eyes opened.

▪ close/shut your eyes

Joe closed his eyes and tried to get back to sleep.

▪ sb’s eyes close

She let her eyes close for just a moment.

▪ rub your eyes

Anna rubbed her eyes wearily.

▪ shade/shield your eyes (=protect them from a bright light or the sun)

They gazed out to sea, shielding their eyes from the sun.

▪ narrow your eyes (=partly close them, especially to show that you do not trust someone)

She narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously.

▪ sb’s eyes narrow (=become half closed, especially because someone does not trust another person)

Her dark eyes narrowed for a moment.

▪ sb’s eyes widen (=become more open because they are surprised)

His eyes widened in shock.

▪ sb’s eyes sparkle/shine (=show that they are very happy)

Jenny’s eyes sparkled with excitement.

▪ somebody's eyes light up (=become excited)

His eyes lit up when I mentioned the word money.

▪ drop/lower your eyes (=look down at the ground)

The servants lowered their eyes as the countess walked past.

▪ avert your eyes literary (=look away from something)

He averted his eyes from the body.

■ phrases

▪ keep your eyes open (=prevent them from closing)

I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open.

▪ have/keep etc your eyes glued to something (=be watching something with all your attention)

Ted sat with his eyes glued to the television.

▪ sb’s eyes are full of tears

When she put the phone down, her eyes were full of tears.

▪ sb’s eyes are full of hatred/fear etc

The prisoners stared at him, their eyes full of hatred.

■ eye + NOUN

▪ an eye test ( also an eye exam American English ) (=to find out how well you can see)

You should have an eye test every couple of years.

▪ eye make-up (=make-up that you put on your eyelids or eyelashes)

She never leaves the house without lipstick and eye make-up.


► Do not say ' black eyes ' when you mean dark brown eyes . You normally use 'black eye' when someone has a bruise around their eye, after being hit by someone.

II. eye 2 BrE AmE verb ( present participle eyeing or eying ) [transitive]

to look at someone or something carefully, especially because you do not trust them or because you want something:

The man behind the desk eyed us suspiciously.

A crowd of local children gathered around, eying us in silence.

eye somebody ↔ up phrasal verb

informal to look at someone in a way that shows you think they are sexually attractive:

There was a group of lads at the bar, eyeing up every girl who walked in.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.