\ ˈī \

Definition of eye 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a specialized light-sensitive sensory structure of animals that in nearly all vertebrates, most arthropods, and some mollusks is the image-forming organ of sight especially : the nearly spherical usually paired hollow organ of sight in vertebrates that is filled with a jellylike material, is lined with a photosensitive retina, and is lodged in a bony orbit in the skull
b : all the visible structures within and surrounding the orbit and including eyelids, eyelashes, and eyebrows
c(1) : the faculty of seeing with eyes
(2) : the faculty of intellectual or aesthetic perception or appreciation an eye for beauty
(3) : skill or ability dependent upon eyesight a batter with a good eye
d : look, glance cast an eager eye
e(1) : an attentive look kept an eye on his valuables
(2) : attention, notice caught his eye
(3) : close observation : scrutiny works under the eye of her boss in the public eye
f : point of view, judgment beauty is in the eye of the beholder often used in plural an offender in the eyes of the law
2 : something having an appearance suggestive of an eye: such as
a : the hole through the head of a needle
b : a usually circular marking (as on a peacock's tail)
c : loop especially : a loop or catch to receive a hook
d : an undeveloped bud (as on a potato)
e : an area like a hole in the center of a tropical cyclone marked by only light winds or complete calm with no precipitation
f : the center of a flower especially when differently colored or marked specifically : the disk of a composite
g(1) : a triangular piece of beef cut from between the top and bottom of a round
(2) : the chief muscle of a chop
(3) : a compact mass of muscular tissue usually embedded in fat in a rib or loin cut of meat
h : a device (such as a photoelectric cell) that functions in a manner analogous to human vision
3 : something central : center the eye of the problem— Norman Mailer
4 : the direction from which the wind is blowing
an eye for an eye
: retribution in kind
my eye
used to express mild disagreement or sometimes surprise a diamond, my eye! That's glass
with an eye to or less commonly with an eye toward
1 : with awareness or contemplation of with an eye to the future
2 : with the object of built the house with an eye to adding on later


eyed; eyeing or eying

Definition of eye (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a(1) : to fix the eyes on : look at they eyed him suspiciously
(2) : contemplate, consider eyeing the choices
b : to watch or study closely eyeing changes in the stock market
2 : to furnish with an eye

Illustration of eye

Illustration of eye


eye 1a: 1 optic nerve, 2 blind spot, 3 fovea, 4 sclera, 5 choroid, 6 retina, 7 ciliary body, 8 posterior chamber, 9 anterior chamber, 10 cornea, 11 lens, 12 iris, 13 suspensory ligament, 14 conjunctiva, 15 vitreous humor

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from eye


eyeless \ ˈī-​ləs \ adjective
eyelike \ ˈī-​ˌlīk \ adjective


eyer \ ˈī(-​ə)r \ noun

Synonyms for eye

Synonyms: Noun

band, circle, hoop, loop, ring, round

Synonyms: Verb

follow, observe, watch

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Did You Know?

The eye is an organ that receives light and visual images. Non-image forming eyes (also called direction eyes) are found among worms, mollusks, cnidarians, echinoderms, and other invertebrates. Image-forming eyes are found in certain mollusks, most arthropods, and nearly all vertebrates. Arthropods are unique in possessing a compound eye, which results in their seeing a multiple image that is partially integrated in the brain. Lower vertebrates, such as fish, have eyes on either side of the head, allowing a maximum view of the surroundings, but producing two separate fields of vision. In predatory birds and mammals, binocular vision is more important. The placement of both eyes on the front of the head permits a larger overlap of the two visual fields, resulting in a parallel line of direct sight.

Examples of eye in a Sentence


Her eyes slowly became accustomed to the dark. He wears a patch over one eye. I have something in my eye. Only a trained eye can tell the difference between the original painting and a good copy. For decorating, they rely on her discerning eye. He has an artist's eye for color. He reviewed the proposal with a jaundiced eye. The biographer cast a cold eye on the artist's life.


I saw someone eyeing me from across the street. a lot of his backyard bird watching was spent eyeing the squirrels as they depleted the bird feeder of seeds
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In addition to claiming more natural resources and trading posts, the British also had their eye on a piece of priceless treasure: the Koh-i-Noor. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "The True Story of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond—And Why the British Won’t Give It Back," 30 Aug. 2017 My students were unimpressed, but in my eyes, at least the Dutch still-lifes conveyed some kind of attempt at universal truth. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Reflections of an Accidental Florist," 28 Aug. 2017 His observant eye focuses most frequently on his opponents, and even more frequently on women. Kaitlin Menza, Town & Country, "Is Trump the Driving Force Behind D.C.'s Plastic Surgery Boom?," 23 Aug. 2017 With Isaiah Robertson (Notre Dame) and Owen Piche (Navy) now graduated, eyes will be on two of Wheeler's baseball teammates, Trevor Tesmond and Jake Wenz. Blake Baumgartner, Naperville Sun, "Neuqua's Ryan Wheeler aims to duplicate baseball success in football," 22 Aug. 2017 There are enough nearby islands that a meaningful deviation from what ships crews were seeing with their own eyes would have been glaringly obvious. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "No, the USS McCain Wasn't a Victim of GPS Spoofing," 21 Aug. 2017 Nora Harris is a small woman with graying brown hair and dark, confused eyes. Jonel Aleccia, Kaiser Health News, "Despite Advance Directive, Dementia Patient Denied Last Wish, Says Spouse," 21 Aug. 2017 The city’s armor, its shiny office surfaces, deflected my attention back to the streets whenever my eyes wandered. Jessica Brown, Longreads, "Searching London for My ‘Third Place’," 18 July 2017 Eyes jerk rapidly, limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed. Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati.com, "How to fix common sleep problems," 26 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Federal Reserve closely eyes consumer spending data as a gauge of economic growth, and Fed officials pointed to a pickup in consumer spending as a factor in their decision to raise interest rates in June to a range between 1.75% and 2%. Harriet Torry, WSJ, "U.S. Retail Sales Rose Slightly in August," 14 Sep. 2018 Ambrosius brought her soulful A-game, and the crowd at Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater responded: Baker was misty-eyed through much of it, and others on camera, like Donald Glover, couldn't help but sing along. Chris Payne, Billboard, "Marsha Ambrosius Salutes Anita Baker, Delivers Poignant 'Caught Up In the Rapture' BET Awards Cover," 24 June 2018 Its deeply reported, clear-eyed, and principled stories have consistently challenged power and exposed injustices and abuses in communities of all kinds. Noreen Malone, Daily Intelligencer, "The New Yorker Staff Wants to Unionize," 6 June 2018 So in the show ring, Max gets all glassy-eyed and thinks of fireworks and flowers and dancing with Arnett as the show judge inspects his privates. Lisa Gutierrez, kansascity, "Parents say 'Show Dogs' movie grooms kids for sexual abuse. Now those scenes are cut | The Kansas City Star," 24 May 2018 Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, looked on, teary-eyed, and appeared to receive comforting words from Charles outside. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "5 biggest moments from the Royal Wedding," 19 May 2018 There was also opposition to both the physical appearance of the doll — which is light-eyed and doesn’t include Kahlo’s signature unibrow — and its symbolism. Gabriella Paiella, The Cut, "A Mexican Court Has Blocked the Sales of the Controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie Doll," 20 Apr. 2018 Michael De Luca is producing The Kitchen, which is eyeing a May start and is set to hit theaters Sept. 20, 2019. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "Domhnall Gleeson in Talks to Join Elisabeth Moss in New Line Crime Drama 'The Kitchen' (Exclusive)," 16 Apr. 2018 Two police officers at a security checkpoint eyed him suspiciously. Rory Smith, New York Times, "The Google Translate World Cup," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'eye.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of eye


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for eye


Middle English, from Old English ēage; akin to Old High German ouga eye, Latin oculus, Greek ōps eye, face, Sanskrit akṣi eye

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Dictionary Entries near eye



Eyck, van



eye agate

eye appeal

Statistics for eye

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Time Traveler for eye

The first known use of eye was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for eye



English Language Learners Definition of eye

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the part of the body that you see with

: an ability to understand and appreciate something seen

—used to describe the way something looks to you



English Language Learners Definition of eye (Entry 2 of 2)

: to watch or look at (someone or something) in a very close or careful way


\ ˈī \

Kids Definition of eye

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the organ of seeing that in vertebrates is a round organ filled with a jellylike material, is located in a bony cavity in the skull, and has a lens which focuses light on the retina
2 : the eye along with its surrounding parts (as the eyelids)
3 : the colored surface of the iris He has blue eyes.
4 : the ability to see I have good eyes.
5 : the ability to recognize or appreciate He has a good eye for color.
6 : glance entry 2 It caught my eye.
7 : close attention : watch Keep an eye on dinner.
8 : judgment sense 1 They are guilty in the eyes of the law.
9 : something like or suggesting an eye the eye of a needle
10 : the center of something the eye of a hurricane

Other Words from eye

eyed \ ˈīd \ adjective
eyeless \ ˈī-​ləs \ adjective


eyed; eyeing or eying

Kids Definition of eye (Entry 2 of 2)

: to look at : watch closely They eyed the stranger suspiciously.


\ ˈī \

Medical Definition of eye 

1 : an organ of sight especially : a nearly spherical hollow organ that is lined with a sensitive retina, is lodged in a bony orbit in the skull, is the vertebrate organ of sight, and is normally paired
2 : all the visible structures within and surrounding the orbit and including eyelids, eyelashes, and eyebrows
3 : the faculty of seeing with eyes

Other Words from eye

eyeless \ ˈī-​ləs \ adjective
eyelike \ -​ˌlīk \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on eye

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for eye

Spanish Central: Translation of eye

Nglish: Translation of eye for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of eye for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about eye

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