have an eye for

noun, plural eyes, (Archaic) ey·en or eyne.

  1. 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.
  2. the aggregate of structures situated within or near the orbit that assist, support, or protect the eye.
  3. this organ with respect to the color of the iris: blue eyes.
  4. the region surrounding the eye: a black eye; puffy eyes.
  5. sight; vision: a sharp eye.
  6. the power of seeing; appreciative or discriminating visual perception: the eye of an artist.
  7. a look, glance, or gaze: to cast one’s eye at a beautiful necklace.
  8. an attentive look, close observation, or watch: to be under the eye of a guard.
  9. regard, view, aim, or intention: to have an eye to one’s own advantage.
  10. a manner or way of looking at a thing; estimation; opinion: in the eyes of the law.
  11. a center of light, intelligence, influence, etc.
  12. something resembling or suggesting the eye in appearance, shape, etc., as the opening in the lens of a camera, a peephole, or a buttonhole.
  13. Botany.
    1. the bud of a potato, Jerusalem artichoke, etc.
    2. a small, contrastingly colored part at the center of a flower.
  14. the central spot of a target; bull’s-eye.
  15. a choice center cut of meat: an eye of round; the eye of the rib.
  16. one of the round spots on the tail feathers of a peacock.
  17. the hole in a needle.
  18. a hole made in a thing for the insertion of some object, as the handle of a tool: the eye of an ax.
  19. a metal or other ring through which something, as a rope or rod, is passed.
  20. the loop into which a hook is inserted.
  21. Electronics. a photoelectric cell or similar device used to perform a function analogous to visual inspection.
  22. Building Trades. a ring on the end of a tension member, as an eye bar or eye bolt, for connection with another member.
  23. a hole formed during the maturation of cheese, especially Emmenthaler or Gruyère.
  24. a loop worked at the end of a rope.
  25. Meteorology. the approximately circular region of relatively light winds and fair weather found at the center of a severe tropical cyclone.
  26. eyes, Nautical. the extreme forward part of the upper deck at the bow of a vessel.
  27. Nautical. the precise direction from which a wind is blowing.

verb (used with object), eyed, ey·ing or eye·ing.

  1. to fix the eyes upon; view: to eye the wonders of nature.
  2. to observe or watch narrowly: She eyed the two strangers with suspicion.
  3. to make an eye in: to eye a needle.

verb (used without object), eyed, ey·ing or eye·ing.

  1. Obsolete. to appear to the eye.
  1. an eye for an eye, repayment in kind, as revenge for an injustice.
  2. be all eyes, to give all one’s attention to something; look intently.
  3. catch someone’s eye, to draw or attract someone’s attention: to catch the waiter’s eye.
  4. 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.
  5. have an eye for, to have the ability to appreciate distinctions in; be discerning or perceptive about: She has an eye for antique furniture.
  6. have eyes only for,
    1. to want no other person or thing but: She was always surrounded by admirers, but she had eyes only for Harry.
    2. to see, or view, or desire to see only.

    Also only have eyes for.

  7. in a pig’s eye, Slang. absolutely not; never: In a pig’s eye I will!
  8. keep an eye on, to watch over attentively: Please keep an eye on my plants while I’m away.
  9. 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.
  10. keep one’s eye on the ball, to remain attentive; be especially alert.
  11. keep one’s eyes open, to be especially alert or observant.
  12. lay/clap/set eyes on, Informal. to catch sight of; see: They had never laid eyes on such a big car before.
  13. make eyes at, to gaze flirtatiously or amorously at.
  14. my eye! Informal. (a mild exclamation of contradiction or surprise): He says he wasn’t told about this? My eye!
  15. 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.
  16. pick the eyes out, Australia and New Zealand. to select the best parts or items.
  17. run one’s eye over, to glance briefly at; examine hastily.
  18. see eye to eye, to have exactly the same opinion; agree: They have never been able to see eye to eye on politics.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. with an eye to, with a plan or purpose of: with an eye to one’s future.
  23. with one’s eyes open, aware of the inherent or potential risks: She signed the papers with her eyes open.


  1. 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 retinaRelated adjectives: ocular, oculate, ophthalmic, optic
  2. (often plural) the ability to see; sense of visionweak eyes
  3. the visible external part of an eye, often including the area around itheavy-lidded eyes; piercing eyes
  4. a look, glance, expression, or gazea stern eye
  5. a sexually inviting or provocative look (esp in the phrases give (someone) the (glad) eye, make eyes at)
  6. attention or observation (often in the phrases catch someone’s eye, keep an eye on, cast an eye over)
  7. ability to recognize, judge, or appreciatean eye for antiques
  8. (often plural) opinion, judgment, point of view, or authorityin the eyes of the law
  9. 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
  10. a small loop or hole, as at one end of a needle
  11. a small area of low pressure and calm in the centre of a tornado or cyclone
  12. See photocell
  13. informal See private eye
  14. all eyes informal acutely vigilant or observantthe children were all eyes
  15. my eye or all my eye informal rubbish; nonsense
  16. an eye for an eye retributive or vengeful justice; retaliation
  17. cut one’s eye after someone, cut one’s eye at someone or cut one’s eye on someone Caribbean to look rudely at a person and then turn one’s face away sharply while closing one’s eyes: a gesture of contempt
  18. eyes out NZ with every possible efforthe went at the job eyes out
  19. get one’s eye in mainly sport to become accustomed to the conditions, light, etc, with a consequent improvement in one’s performance
  20. half an eye
    1. a modicum of perceptivenessanyone with half an eye can see she’s in love
    2. continuing unobtrusive observation or awarenessthe dog had half an eye on the sheep
  21. have eyes for to be interested inshe has eyes only for him
  22. in one’s mind’s eye pictured within the mind; imagined or remembered vividly
  23. in the public eye exposed to public curiosity or publicity
  24. keep an eye open or keep an eye out to watch with special attention (for)
  25. keep one’s eyes peeled or keep one’s eyes skinned to watch vigilantly (for)
  26. look someone in the eye to look at someone openly and without shame or embarrassment
  27. make eyes or make sheep’s eyes old-fashioned to ogle amorously
  28. more than meets the eye hidden motives, meaning, or facts
  29. pick the eyes out Australian and NZ to select the best parts or pieces (of)
  30. see eye to eye to agree (with)
  31. set eyes on, lay eyes on or clap eyes on (usually used with a negative) to seeshe had never laid eyes on him before
  32. the eye of the wind nautical the direction from which the wind is blowing
  33. turn a blind eye to or close one’s eyes to to pretend not to notice or ignore deliberately
  34. up to one’s eyes extremely busy (with)
  35. with a … eye in a … mannerhe regards our success with a jealous eye
  36. with an eye to or having an eye to (preposition)
    1. regarding; with reference towith an eye to one’s own interests
    2. with the intention or purpose ofwith an eye to reaching agreement
  37. with one’s eyes open in the full knowledge of all relevant facts
  38. with one’s eyes shut
    1. with great ease, esp as a result of thorough familiarityI could drive home with my eyes shut
    2. without being aware of all the facts

verb eyes, eyeing, eying or eyed (tr)

  1. to look at carefully or warily
  2. Also: eye up to look at in a manner indicating sexual interest; ogle


  1. 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.


  1. An organ of vision or of light sensitivity.
  2. 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.
  3. The external, visible portion of this organ together with its associated structures, especially the eyelids, eyelashes, and eyebrows.
  4. The pigmented iris of this organ.
  5. The faculty of seeing; vision.

  1. 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.
  2. Zoology An organ in invertebrates that is sensitive to light. See more at compound eye eyespot.
  3. Botany A bud on a tuber, such as a potato.
  4. 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.


Be discriminating or perceptive about something, as in She has an eye for decorating. [c. 1700]


have eyes for. Also, have eyes only for. Be attracted to or desire someone or something (exclusively). For example, It’s obvious she has eyes for him, or He has eyes only for the top award. [Early 1800s]

In addition to the idioms beginning with eye

  • eye for an eye, an
  • eye opener, an
  • eyes are bigger than one’s stomach, one’s
  • eyes in the back of one’s head, have
  • eyes open, with
  • eye to eye
  • eye to the main chance, have an
  • eye to, with an

also see:

  • all eyes
  • apple of one’s eye
  • believe one’s ears (eyes)
  • bird’s-eye view
  • black eye
  • bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
  • catch someone’s eye
  • close one’s eyes
  • cry one’s eyes out
  • eagle eye
  • easy on the eyes
  • evil eye
  • feast one’s eyes on
  • give someone the once-over (eye)
  • green-eyed monster
  • have an eye for
  • have one’s eye on
  • hit between the eyes
  • hit the bull’s-eye
  • in a pig’s eye
  • in one’s mind’s eye
  • in the eye of the wind
  • in the public eye
  • in the twinkling of an eye
  • keep an eye on
  • keep an eye out
  • keep a weather eye
  • keep one’s eye on the ball
  • keep one’s eyes open
  • lay eyes on
  • look someone in the face (eye)
  • make eyes at
  • more than meets the eye
  • my eye
  • naked eye
  • one eye on
  • open one’s eyes
  • out of the corner of one’s eye

private eyepull the wool over someone’s eyesrun one’s eyes oversee eye to eyesee with half an eyesight for sore eyesstars in one’s eyesthrow dust in someone’s eyesturn a blind eyeup to one’s ears (eyes)with an eye towith one’s eyes openwithout batting an eye.

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