Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

All my eye and Betty Martin nonsense; said in a letter of 1781 to be ‘a sea phrase’, although the identity of Betty Martin is unexplained.

eye-catcher in 18th-century landscape design, an architectural feature such as a sham ruin or a monument, intended to draw the eye in a particular direction.

an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth used to refer to the belief that retaliation in kind is the appropriate way to deal with an offence or crime, with biblical allusion to Exodus 21:23–4.

the eye of a master does more work than both his hands employees work harder when the person who is in charge is present; saying recorded from the mid 18th century.

eye of a needle the type of a minute gap through which it is difficult to pass; mainly with echoes of Jesus's saying, ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 19:24).

eye of the storm the calm region at the centre of a storm, often used figuratively.

an eye to the main chance consideration for one's own interests; main chance literally, in the game of hazard, a number (5, 6, 7, or 8) called by a player before throwing the dice.

what the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over now sometimes used with the implication that information is being withheld to prevent difficulties. The saying is recorded in English from the mid 16th century, but an earlier Latin usage is found in the sermons of St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153), ‘vulgo dicitur: Quod non videt oculus cor non dolet [it is commonly said: what the eye sees not, the heart does not grieve at].’ (Compare where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise.)

See also apple of one's eye, a beam in one's eye, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, keep an eagle eye on, eyes, the naked eye, turn a Nelson eye, please your eye and plague your heart.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.