1. the power or faculty of seeing; perception of objects by use of the eyes; vision.
  2. an act, fact, or instance of seeing.
  3. one’s range of vision on some specific occasion: Land is in sight.
  4. a view; glimpse.
  5. mental perception or regard; judgment.
  6. something seen or worth seeing; spectacle: the sights of London.
  7. Informal. something unusual, surprising, shocking, or distressing: They were a sight after the fight.
  8. Commerce.
    1. presentation of a bill of exchange: a draft payable at two months after sight.
    2. a showing of goods, especially gems, held periodically for wholesalers.
  9. Older Use. a multitude; great deal: It’s a sight better to work than to starve.
  10. an observation taken with a surveying, navigating, or other instrument to ascertain an exact position or direction.
  11. any of various mechanical or optical viewing devices, as on a firearm or surveying instrument, for aiding the eye in aiming.
  12. Obsolete. skill; insight.

verb (used with object)

  1. to see, glimpse, notice, or observe: to sight a ship to the north.
  2. to take a sight or observation of (a stake, coastline, etc.), especially with surveying or navigating instruments.
  3. to direct or aim by a sight or sights, as a firearm.
  4. to provide with sights or adjust the sights of, as a gun.

verb (used without object)

  1. to aim or observe through a sight.
  2. to look carefully in a certain direction.
  1. at first sight, at the first glimpse; at once: It was love at first sight.
  2. at sight,
    1. immediately upon seeing, especially without referring elsewhere for assurance, further information, etc.: to translate something at sight.
    2. Commerce.on presentation: a draft payable at sight.
  3. catch sight of, to get a glimpse of; espy: We caught sight of the lake below.
  4. know by sight, to recognize (a person or thing) seen previously: I know him by sight, but I know nothing about him.
  5. not by a long sight, Informal. definitely not: Is that all? Not by a long sight.
  6. on/upon sight, immediately upon seeing: to shoot him on sight; to recognize someone on sight.
  7. out of sight,
    1. beyond one’s range of vision.
    2. Informal.beyond reason; exceedingly high: The price is out of sight.
    3. Slang.(often used as an interjection) fantastic; marvelous: a ceremony so glamorous it was out of sight. Oh wow! Out of sight!
  8. sight for sore eyes, someone or something whose appearance on the scene is cause for relief or gladness.
  9. sight unseen, without previous examination: to buy something sight unseen.


  1. the power or faculty of seeing; perception by the eyes; visionRelated adjectives: optical, visual
  2. the act or an instance of seeing
  3. the range of visionwithin sight of land
  4. range of mental vision; point of view; judgmentin his sight she could do nothing wrong
  5. a glimpse or view (esp in the phrases catch sight of, lose sight of)
  6. anything that is seen
  7. (often plural) anything worth seeing; spectaclethe sights of London
  8. informal anything unpleasant or undesirable to seehis room was a sight!
  9. any of various devices or instruments used to assist the eye in making alignments or directional observations, esp such a device used in aiming a gun
  10. an observation or alignment made with such a device
  11. an opportunity for observation
  12. obsolete insight or skill
  13. a sight informal a great dealshe’s a sight too good for him
  14. a sight for sore eyes a person or thing that one is pleased or relieved to see
  15. at sight or on sight
    1. as soon as seen
    2. on presentationa bill payable at sight
  16. know by sight to be familiar with the appearance of without having personal acquaintanceI know Mr Brown by sight but we have never spoken
  17. not by a long sight informal on no account; not at all
  18. out of sight
    1. slangnot visible
    2. extreme or very unusual
    3. (as interj.)that’s marvellous!
  19. set one’s sights on to have (a specified goal) in mind; aim for
  20. sight unseen without having seen the object at issueto buy a car sight unseen


  1. (tr) to see, view, or glimpse
  2. (tr)
    1. to furnish with a sight or sights
    2. to adjust the sight of
  3. to aim (a firearm) using the sight

Old English sihð, gesiht, gesihð “thing seen; faculty of sight; aspect; vision; apparition,” from Proto-Germanic *sekh(w)- (cf. Danish sigte, Swedish sigt, Middle Dutch sicht, Dutch zicht, Old High German siht, German Sicht, Gesicht), stem that also yielded Old English seon (see see (v.)), with noun suffix -th (2), later -t.

Verily, truth is sight. Therefore if two people should come disputing, saying, ‘I have seen,’ ‘I have heard,’ we should trust the one who says ‘I have seen.’ [Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 5.14.4]

Meaning “perception or apprehension by means of the eyes” is from early 13c. Meaning “device on a firearm to assist in aiming” is from 1580s. A “show” of something, hence, colloquially, “a great many; a lot” (late 14c.). Sight for sore eyes “welcome visitor” is attested from 1738; sight unseen “without previous inspection” is from 1892. Sight gag first attested 1944. Middle English had sighty (late 14c.) “visible, conspicuous; bright, shining; attractive, handsome;” c.1400 as “keen-sighted;” mid-15c. as “discerning” (cf. German sichtig “visible”).


1550s, “look at, view, inspect,” from sight (n.). From c.1600 as “get sight of,” 1842 as “take aim along the sight of a firearm.” Related: Sighted; sighting.


  1. The ability to see.
  2. Field of vision.

In addition to the idioms beginning with sight

  • sight for sore eyes, a
  • sight unseen

also see:

  • at first blush (sight)
  • at sight
  • can’t stand the sight of
  • catch sight of
  • heave into sight
  • in sight
  • know by sight
  • lose sight of
  • love at first sight
  • lower one’s sights
  • on sight
  • out of sight
  • raise one’s sights
  • second sight
  • see the sights
  • set one’s sights on
  • twenty-twenty hindsight
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