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the organ of sight, in vertebrates typically one of a pair of spherical bodies contained in an orbit of the skull and in humans appearing externally as a dense, white, curved membrane, or sclera, surrounding a circular, colored portion, or iris, that is covered by a clear, curved membrane, or cornea, and in the center of which is an opening, or pupil, through which light passes to the retina.
the aggregate of structures situated within or near the orbit that assist, support, or protect the eye.
this organ with respect to the color of the iris:
blue eyes.
the region surrounding the eye:
a black eye; puffy eyes.
sight; vision:
a sharp eye.
the power of seeing; appreciative or discriminating visual perception:
the eye of an artist.
a look, glance, or gaze:
to cast one’s eye at a beautiful necklace.
an attentive look, close observation, or watch:
to be under the eye of a guard.
regard, view, aim, or intention:
to have an eye to one’s own advantage.
a manner or way of looking at a thing; estimation; opinion:
in the eyes of the law.
a center of light, intelligence, influence, etc.
something resembling or suggesting the eye in appearance, shape, etc., as the opening in the lens of a camera, a peephole, or a buttonhole.

the bud of a potato, Jerusalem artichoke, etc.
a small, contrastingly colored part at the center of a flower.

the central spot of a target; bull’s-eye.
a choice center cut of meat:
an eye of round; the eye of the rib.
one of the round spots on the tail feathers of a peacock.
the hole in a needle.
a hole made in a thing for the insertion of some object, as the handle of a tool:
the eye of an ax.
a metal or other ring through which something, as a rope or rod, is passed.
the loop into which a hook is inserted.
Electronics. a photoelectric cell or similar device used to perform a function analogous to visual inspection.
Building Trades. a ring on the end of a tension member, as an eye bar or eye bolt, for connection with another member.
a hole formed during the maturation of cheese, especially Emmenthaler or Gruyère.
a loop worked at the end of a rope.
Meteorology. the approximately circular region of relatively light winds and fair weather found at the center of a severe tropical cyclone.
eyes, Nautical. the extreme forward part of the upper deck at the bow of a vessel.
Nautical. the precise direction from which a wind is blowing.
to fix the eyes upon; view:
to eye the wonders of nature.
to observe or watch narrowly:
She eyed the two strangers with suspicion.
to make an eye in:
to eye a needle.
Obsolete. to appear to the eye.
an eye for an eye, repayment in kind, as revenge for an injustice.
be all eyes, to give all one’s attention to something; look intently.
catch someone’s eye, to draw or attract someone’s attention:
to catch the waiter’s eye.
give (someone) the eye, Informal. to look fixedly at (another person), especially with obvious admiration; ogle:
She ignored the men who were giving her the eye.
have an eye for, to have the ability to appreciate distinctions in; be discerning or perceptive about:
She has an eye for antique furniture.
have eyes only for,

to want no other person or thing but:
She was always surrounded by admirers, but she had eyes only for Harry.
to see, or view, or desire to see only.

Also, only have eyes for.
in a pig’s eye, Slang. absolutely not; never:
In a pig’s eye I will!
keep an eye on, to watch over attentively:
Please keep an eye on my plants while I’m away.
keep an eye out for, to be vigilant in looking or watching for:
The announcer told his listeners to keep an eye out for the escaped criminal.
keep one’s eye on the ball, to remain attentive; be especially alert.
keep one’s eyes open, to be especially alert or observant.
lay / clap / set eyes on, Informal. to catch sight of; see:
They had never laid eyes on such a big car before.
make eyes at, to gaze flirtatiously or amorously at.
my eye!, Informal. (a mild exclamation of contradiction or surprise):
He says he wasn’t told about this? My eye!
open one’s eyes, to bring someone to a realization of the truth or of something previously unknown:
A trip through Asia opened his eyes to the conditions under which millions had to live.
pick the eyes out, Australia and New Zealand. to select the best parts or items.
run one’s eye over, to glance briefly at; examine hastily.
see eye to eye, to have exactly the same opinion; agree:
They have never been able to see eye to eye on politics.
see with half an eye, to see or realize immediately or with ease:
Anyone can see with half an eye that the plan is doomed to fail.
shut one’s eyes to, to refuse to see or consider; disregard:
We can no longer shut our eyes to the gravity of the situation.
sight for sore eyes, a welcome sight; a pleasant surprise:
After our many days in the desert, the wretched village was a sight for sore eyes.
with an eye to, with a plan or purpose of:
with an eye to one’s future.
with one’s eyes open, aware of the inherent or potential risks:
She signed the papers with her eyes open.
Contemporary Examples

Death and the awful abode of lost souls, whither my weakness long ago had sent him, had changed him for every other eye but mine.
Read ‘The King in Yellow,’ the ‘True Detective’ Reference That’s the Key to the Show Robert W. Chambers February 19, 2014

Medical personnel were expecting Rondin on Monday at Filatov Institute of eye Diseases and Tissue Therapy.
Ukraine’s Wild and Wooly Elections Anna Nemtsova October 23, 2014

My doctor and nurse colleagues have to fight for eye contact with you.
‘Code Black’: An M.D. on How to Fix Our Emergency Room Crisis Ryan McGarry June 19, 2014

Being right on the issues is important, he says, but conservatives need to keep their eye on taking back the Senate.
With Incumbents To Protect, The Tea Party Is Now Playing Defense Michelle Cottle March 19, 2014

And this is pretty far afield, but keep an eye on Aleppo in Syria.
Why the Border Bigots Are Beating Obama Michael Tomasky July 8, 2014

Historical Examples

Her tone was quite serious, but there was an odd expression in her eye.
Cap’n Dan’s Daughter Joseph C. Lincoln

The darkness of a terrible storm hid it from the eye of man.
Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon

Her eye never left his and he wavered at the thought of following her.
Melomaniacs James Huneker

All else is but the setting, and the eye sweeps with indifference the line of unpeopled rocks.
Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson

So Calvin’s eye saw in an instant, and he applauded Beza’s boldness.
The Rise of the Hugenots, Vol. 1 (of 2) Henry Martyn Baird

the organ of sight of animals, containing light-sensitive cells associated with nerve fibres, so that light entering the eye is converted to nervous impulses that reach the brain. In man and other vertebrates the iris controls the amount of light entering the eye and the lens focuses the light onto the retina related adjectives ocular oculate ophthalmic optic
(often pl) the ability to see; sense of vision: weak eyes
the visible external part of an eye, often including the area around it: heavy-lidded eyes, piercing eyes
a look, glance, expression, or gaze: a stern eye
a sexually inviting or provocative look (esp in the phrases give (someone) the (glad) eye, make eyes at)
attention or observation (often in the phrases catch someone’s eye, keep an eye on, cast an eye over)
ability to recognize, judge, or appreciate: an eye for antiques
(often pl) opinion, judgment, point of view, or authority: in the eyes of the law
a structure or marking having the appearance of an eye, such as the bud on a twig or potato tuber or a spot on a butterfly wing
a small loop or hole, as at one end of a needle
a small area of low pressure and calm in the centre of a tornado or cyclone
See photocell
(informal) See private eye
(informal) all eyes, acutely vigilant or observant: the children were all eyes
(informal) my eye, all my eye, rubbish; nonsense
an eye for an eye, retributive or vengeful justice; retaliation
(Caribbean) cut one’s eye after someone, cut one’s eye at someone, cut one’s eye on someone, to look rudely at a person and then turn one’s face away sharply while closing one’s eyes: a gesture of contempt
(NZ) eyes out, with every possible effort: he went at the job eyes out
(mainly sport) get one’s eye in, to become accustomed to the conditions, light, etc, with a consequent improvement in one’s performance
half an eye

a modicum of perceptiveness: anyone with half an eye can see she’s in love
continuing unobtrusive observation or awareness: the dog had half an eye on the sheep

have eyes for, to be interested in: she has eyes only for him
in one’s mind’s eye, pictured within the mind; imagined or remembered vividly
in the public eye, exposed to public curiosity or publicity
keep an eye open, keep an eye out, to watch with special attention (for)
keep one’s eyes peeled, keep one’s eyes skinned, to watch vigilantly (for)
look someone in the eye, to look at someone openly and without shame or embarrassment
(old-fashioned) make eyes, make sheep’s eyes, to ogle amorously
more than meets the eye, hidden motives, meaning, or facts
(Austral & NZ) pick the eyes out, to select the best parts or pieces (of)
see eye to eye, to agree (with)
(usually used with a negative) set eyes on, lay eyes on, clap eyes on, to see: she had never laid eyes on him before
(nautical) the eye of the wind, the direction from which the wind is blowing
turn a blind eye to, close one’s eyes to, to pretend not to notice or ignore deliberately
up to one’s eyes, extremely busy (with)
with a … eye, in a … manner: he regards our success with a jealous eye
(preposition) with an eye to, having an eye to

regarding; with reference to: with an eye to one’s own interests
with the intention or purpose of: with an eye to reaching agreement

with one’s eyes open, in the full knowledge of all relevant facts
with one’s eyes shut

with great ease, esp as a result of thorough familiarity: I could drive home with my eyes shut
without being aware of all the facts

verb (transitive) eyes, eyeing, eying, eyed
to look at carefully or warily
Also eye up. to look at in a manner indicating sexual interest; ogle
another word for nye

c.1200, from Old English ege (Mercian), eage (West Saxon), from Proto-Germanic *augon (cf. Old Saxon aga, Old Frisian age, Old Norse auga, Swedish öga, Danish øie, Middle Dutch oghe, Dutch oog, Old High German ouga, German Auge, Gothic augo “eye”), from PIE *okw- “to see” (cf. Sanskrit akshi “the eye, the number two,” Greek opsis “a sight,” Old Church Slavonic oko, Lithuanian akis, Latin oculus, Greek okkos, Tocharian ak, ek, Armenian akn).

Until late 14c. the plural was in -an, hence modern dialectal plural een, ene. The eye of a needle was in Old English; to see eye to eye is from Isa. lii:8. Eye contact attested by 1965. Eye-opener “anything that informs and enlightens” is from 1863. Have an eye on “keep under supervision” is attested from early 15c.

early 15c., “cause to see;” 1560s, “behold, observe,” from eye (n.). Related: Eyed; eyeing.

eye (ī)

An organ of vision or of light sensitivity.

Either of a pair of hollow structures located in bony sockets of the skull, functioning together or independently, each having a lens capable of focusing incident light on an internal photosensitive retina from which nerve impulses are sent to the brain; the organ of vision.

The external, visible portion of this organ together with its associated structures, especially the eyelids, eyelashes, and eyebrows.

The pigmented iris of this organ.

The faculty of seeing; vision.


Anatomy The vertebrate organ of sight, composed of a pair of fluid-filled spherical structures that occupy the orbits of the skull. Incoming light is refracted by the cornea of the eye and transmitted through the pupil to the lens, which focuses the image onto the retina.

Zoology An organ in invertebrates that is sensitive to light. See more at compound eye, eyespot.

Botany A bud on a tuber, such as a potato.

Meteorology The relatively calm area at the center of a hurricane or similar storm. See more at hurricane.

The organ of sight. Some of its parts are the cornea, iris, lens, optic nerve, pupil, and retina.


A private detective; private eye: an eye named Johnny O’John (1930+)

Related Terms

big brown eyes, black eye, cats’ eyes, eagle-eye, four-eyes, give someone the eye, give someone the fish-eye, give someone the glad eye, goo-goo eyes, have eyes for, in a pig’s ass, keep an eye on, make goo-goo eyes, mud in your eye, not bat an eye, private eye, pull the wool over someone’s eyes, put the eye on someone, redeye, the red-eye, round-eye, short eyes, shut-eye, snake eyes, stoned to the eyes, a thumb in one’s eye


The Pinkerton National Detective Agency, or one of its detectives

[1914+; fr the eye used as the trademark symbol of the agency]

(Heb. ‘ain, meaning “flowing”), applied (1) to a fountain, frequently; (2) to colour (Num. 11:7; R.V., “appearance,” marg. “eye”); (3) the face (Ex. 10:5, 15; Num. 22:5, 11), in Num. 14:14, “face to face” (R.V. marg., “eye to eye”). “Between the eyes”, i.e., the forehead (Ex. 13:9, 16). The expression (Prov. 23:31), “when it giveth his colour in the cup,” is literally, “when it giveth out [or showeth] its eye.” The beads or bubbles of wine are thus spoken of. “To set the eyes” on any one is to view him with favour (Gen. 44:21; Job 24:23; Jer. 39:12). This word is used figuratively in the expressions an “evil eye” (Matt. 20:15), a “bountiful eye” (Prov. 22:9), “haughty eyes” (6:17 marg.), “wanton eyes” (Isa. 3:16), “eyes full of adultery” (2 Pet. 2:14), “the lust of the eyes” (1 John 2:16). Christians are warned against “eye-service” (Eph. 6:6; Col. 3:22). Men were sometimes punished by having their eyes put out (1 Sam. 11:2; Samson, Judg. 16:21; Zedekiah, 2 Kings 25:7). The custom of painting the eyes is alluded to in 2 Kings 9:30, R.V.; Jer. 4:30; Ezek. 23:40, a custom which still prevails extensively among Eastern women.

eye for an eye, an
eye opener, an
eye to eye
eye to the main chance, have an
eye to, with an


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