An Eye On: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
June 13, 2023

The idiom "an eye on" means to watch or monitor something carefully. It often implies diligent attention, with the aim of preventing problems or ensuring smooth operations.

In short:

"An eye on" denotes attentive observation or monitoring of a situation, task, or individual.

What Does "An Eye On" Mean?

The idiom suggests keeping careful watch over something, whether it's a process, a person, a situation, or an object. For example, you might keep an eye on the stock market, a toddler, your health, or a cooking meal.

Let's explore its core meanings:

  • It signifies attentive observation or supervision.
  • It implies preventive care or anticipatory action.
  • While it is often used informally, it carries serious implications of responsibility and attention to detail.

Where Does "An Eye On" Come From?

The phrase "an eye on" traces back to the common use of "eye" in English to signify watchfulness or careful attention. It has been in use at least since the 1800s, and it's likely that it was used even earlier. The Oxford English Dictionary cites an example from 1824, but it's clear from the context that the phrase was already well-established by that point.

Historical Example

"Wherefore Saul had an eye on David from forward."

- 1 Samuel 18:9.

10 Examples of "An Eye On" in Sentences

Here are some examples of how to use the idiom in sentences:

  • I have to keep an eye on the stock market to make sound investment decisions.
  • While the controversy unfolds, it's best to lie low but keep an eye on the situation.
  • My doctor advised me to keep an eye on my blood sugar levels.
  • I'll keep an eye on the schedule to see when we can meet and see you again.
  • That being said, we need to keep an eye on the market trends to make informed decisions.
  • Drawing from my experience in project management, I always keep an eye on the timeline to ensure we meet our deadlines.
  • As a manager, you need to keep an eye on the performance of your team.
  • I've been keeping an eye on the trend to know when to jump on the bandwagon.
  • The government keeps an eye on public sentiment through surveys and polls.
  • We kept an eye on the weather forecast before planning our camping trip.

Examples of "An Eye On" in Pop Culture

The idiom "an eye on" often appears in pop culture, primarily in dialogues and song lyrics, often reflecting a sense of watchfulness, care, or vigilance.

Let's examine some examples:

  • "An Eye on Race: Perspectives from Theater in Imperial Spain" is a book by John Beusterien that examines the role of race in Spanish theater during the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • "Rising: Young Artists to Keep an Eye On!" is a book that presents 100 young artists who are just beginning their careers and have not yet been fully recognized by the established art market.

Other/Different Ways to Say "An Eye On"

There are many alternative phrases that convey the same meaning as "an eye on."

Here are some of them:

  • Monitor
  • Watch closely
  • Keep tabs on
  • Pay attention to
  • Watch vigilantly
  • Keep under surveillance
  • Scrutinize carefully
  • Observe diligently
  • Maintain awareness of
  • Supervise
  • Oversee

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "An Eye On":

  • What does "an eye on" mean?

"An eye on" means to watch or monitor something carefully, often with the aim of preventing problems or ensuring proper functioning.

  • How can I use "an eye on" in a sentence?

You can use "an eye on" to express the act of watching or supervising something or someone. For example, "Can you keep an eye on the baby while I cook dinner?"

  • Where does the idiom "an eye on" come from?

The exact origin of "an eye on" is unclear, but it uses the metaphor of visual observation to represent attentiveness or vigilance.

  • Is "an eye on" a formal term?

"An eye on" can be used in both formal and informal contexts, though it's more commonly used in informal and conversational English.

  • Does "an eye on" imply constant observation?

No, "an eye on" usually means periodic or regular checking, rather than constant observation.

  • Can "an eye on" be used to refer to virtual or abstract monitoring?

Yes, "an eye on" can be used to refer to the monitoring of abstract things like trends, prices, or digital activity.

  • Does "an eye on" signify a sense of responsibility?

Yes, often "an eye on" carries an implication of responsibility for the person doing the monitoring, as they're usually watching to prevent problems or ensure proper functioning.

  • Can "an eye on" have negative connotations?

In some contexts, it might imply spying or prying, which can be seen as negative. However, it generally has a neutral or positive connotation of care, vigilance, or responsibility.

  • Can "an eye on" refer to physical observation only?

No, while it can refer to physical observation, it can also metaphorically represent any form of monitoring or supervision, not necessarily involving sight.

  • Is "an eye on" used more in American or British English?

"An eye on" is a common phrase in both American and British English, and is widely used across various English-speaking regions.

Final Thoughts About "An Eye On"

The phrase "an eye on" refers to watching or monitoring something or someone closely, usually to ensure their well-being or prevent any mishaps. It implies attentiveness, vigilance, and observation.

Here's a quick recap:

  • The term often denotes careful monitoring or supervision.
  • People use it in various contexts, from looking after a child to tracking market trends.
  • While it can sometimes imply prying or spying, it typically carries positive or neutral connotations of responsibility, care, or vigilance.

The idiom "an eye on" helps us articulate the careful attention we often need to give to the many facets of our lives. As such, it's a versatile and useful phrase in the English language.

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