Apple of My Eye (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Apple of My Eye"?

The term "apple of my eye" means someone who is cherished above all others.
Apple of My Eye (Origin)
The apple of an eye is literally the eye's central aperture. When used figuratively, however, "the apple of my eye" refers to a person cherished above all others. It aligns with the saying "I only have eyes for you," i.e., you're the person I always look at.

The saying "the apple of my eye" is over 1,400 years old. It first appears in English in a translation of one of Pope Gregory the Great's works entitled "Pastoral Care," written in AD 590. (The translation of "Pastoral Care" is attributed to King Alfred the Great of Wessex in AD 890.)

Seven hundred years later, William Shakespeare used the phrase in "A Midsummer Night's Dream":
  • Flower of this purple dye,
    Hit with Cupid’s archery,
    Sink in apple of his eye
It also features in the Bible:

Book of Deuteronomy: Chapter 32: Verse 10

"In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye."
However, the term was not popularized until the early 19th century, when playwright Sir Walter Scott included it in his novel "Old Mortality":
  • "Poor Richard was to me as an eldest son, the apple of my eye."

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

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