Turn a Blind Eye (Origin)
What Is the Origin of the Saying "Turn a Blind Eye"?The term "turn a blind eye" means to ignore something deliberately.
Table of Contents
- English Proverbs and Idioms Test
- More Proverbs, Sayings, and Idioms
Examples of Use:
- Most people turn a blind eye to the homeless people by the bus station.
- The locals think the police turn a blind eye to marijuana use in the estate.
- Tony's wife turns a blind eye to his flirting.
- The instructors turn a blind eye to the students helping each other during the exams.
- [Putting the glass to his blind eye] "You know, Foley [Nelson's flag-captain], I have only one eye - and I have a right to be blind sometimes... I really do not see the signal."
Of note, "turn a blind eye" is composed of monosyllabic words that run consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel. This gives the saying rhythm. It is also an example of assonance (repeated vowel sounds), which adds to the rhythm. These traits make "turn a blind eye" easy to say, which is also likely to be a factor in its popularity.
Competing TheoryThe British author Francis Lathom used a similar term in 1800 (one year before Nelson) in his novel "Men and Manners." The following conversation is about the engagement of General Howitzer to Lady Gab, during which the General's glass eye accidentally fell out on to the table.
- ...her ladyship and the general were engaged in a rubber, about three weeks ago, at the Viscountess of Loo's, the general's glass eye, by accident, fell upon the table.
"Glass eye!" interrupted Lady Varny.
"I only speak from report," returned he; "yes, a glass eye; and that her ladyship, who has an excellent taste for nic-nacories, was so charmed by its structure, that she immediately resolved on giving him her hand, for which he had long been a private suitor."
"It is lucky for the poor man he has a blind eye to turn to her," cried Lady Varny.