The Apple of One's Eye: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
August 27, 2023

"The apple of one's eye" is an old idiom that holds a special place in the English language and literature. It's used to express the idea that someone is cherished above others, similar to how the pupil is an essential part of the eye. The phrase often conveys a sense of pride and endearment.

In short:
"The apple of one's eye" refers to someone who is deeply cherished or valued by another.

What Does "The Apple of One's Eye" Mean?

At its core, the idiom "the apple of one's eye" denotes something or someone held in very high regard and treasured deeply by the speaker. Essentially, when someone uses this phrase, they are highlighting the immense value or affection they hold for the subject in question.

  • Often, it's used to refer to a beloved individual, especially a child or significant other.
  • It can also be extended to inanimate objects, representing things that someone cherishes, like a prized possession.
  • The phrase is a testament to the depth of feeling and the special status the referred entity holds in the person's life.
  • It's not limited to English; many languages have phrases that convey similar sentiments, showcasing the universality of such deep affection and regard.

Though the literal reference is to the central part of the eye, the idiom's meaning has evolved to capture the essence of endearment and importance in diverse contexts.

Where Does "The Apple of One's Eye" Come From?

The expression "the apple of one's eye" has a long and rich history, with its origins tracing back to ancient civilizations.

Historical Origins

The term "apple" was commonly used in Old English as a translation for the Latin word 'pupilla', which referred to the central part of the eye. This Latin term, in turn, was derived from the word 'pupa', meaning 'girl' or 'doll', reflecting the tiny image one sees of oneself reflected in another person's pupil.

This idea of the eye's pupil being likened to an apple might seem odd today, but it makes more sense when considering that apples have often been used to represent things that are central or precious. The pupil, after all, is essential for vision.

Historical References

The idiom's ancient roots are evident in various scriptures and texts.

For example:

"Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,"

– This line from the Book of Psalms (17:8) in the Bible is one of the earliest known references to the phrase.

Over the centuries, the phrase became embedded in the English language, representing something or someone cherished above all else. As time progressed, its use broadened beyond just literature and religious texts, becoming a colloquial expression of deep affection and value.

10 Examples of "The Apple of One's Eye" in Sentences

Understanding an idiom's usage is often best achieved by examining it in various contexts.

Here are some examples:

  • Ever since she was a child, she has been the apple of her grandfather's eye.
  • What can I say? My vintage car is the apple of my eye; I spend every weekend maintaining it.
  • Though he has many students, it's clear that Jane is the apple of his eye.
  • It's evident that the new project is the apple of the CEO's eye as he dedicates so much time to it.
  • That necklace is the apple of my eye; my grandmother gave it to me, and it is much appreciated.
  • Many countries consider their cultural heritage to be the apple of their eye.
  • My dog, Buddy, is truly the apple of my eye.
  • She treasures that book above all others; quite frankly, it's the apple of her eye.
  • For many parents, their firstborn is always the apple of their eye and their golden child.
  • His garden is the apple of his eye; I am in awe of it.

These examples underscore the idiom's flexibility, demonstrating its application to various subjects, be it people, possessions, or passions.

Examples of "The Apple of One's Eye" in Pop Culture

The idiom "the apple of one's eye" is not just limited to casual conversations or literature. It has also made notable appearances in pop culture, spanning from music to movies.

Here are some instances:

  • In the song "Apple of My Eye" by Ed Harcourt, the lyrics reflect the sentiment behind the idiom.
  • The popular movie "Transformers" has a scene where a character affectionately refers to another as "the apple of my eye."
  • In the TV series "The Crown," Queen Elizabeth occasionally refers to her corgis as the "apple of her eye."
  • Robyn's song "With Every Heartbeat" contains a line that plays on this idiom, further emphasizing its resonance in modern music.
  • The classic novel "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë uses the phrase to describe the bond between certain characters.
  • "The Apple of My Eye" is a 2011 Taiwanese romance film showcasing the significance of the idiom in its very title.
  • Many cartoons, such as "Tom and Jerry" and "Looney Tunes," have used visual gags involving characters being depicted literally as apples in another's eyes to comedic effect.
  • Popular singer Stevie Wonder has used this idiom in one of his love songs, referring to its romantic undertones.
  • In the TV show "Gilmore Girls," Lorelai often refers to her daughter, Rory, as the "apple of her eye."
  • During an interview, famous actor Tom Hanks once mentioned his wife Rita Wilson as the "apple of his eye," emphasizing his deep affection for her.

These references highlight the staying power and adaptability of the idiom across various facets of pop culture.

Other/Different Ways to Say "The Apple of One's Eye"

Just as with many other idioms, "the apple of one's eye" has several other expressions that convey similar sentiments. These alternatives can be useful for writers and speakers looking to diversify their language.

Some of these include:

  • Light of one's life
  • Pride and joy
  • Treasure
  • Favorite
  • Cherished one
  • Dearest
  • Center of one's world
  • Heart's delight
  • Crown jewel
  • Beloved

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "The Apple of One's Eye":

  • What does "the apple of one's eye" mean?

It refers to someone who is cherished, treasured, or deeply valued by another person.

  • Where did the phrase "the apple of one's eye" originate?

The phrase has biblical origins, appearing in scriptures like Deuteronomy, Proverbs, and Psalms, referring to the pupil of the eye as a cherished part.

  • Can "the apple of one's eye" be used in both formal and informal settings?

Yes, it's versatile and can be used in both formal and informal contexts, although it might be more prevalent in poetic or intimate scenarios due to its metaphorical nature.

  • Are there other idioms similar to "the apple of one's eye" in English?

Yes, phrases like "pride and joy" or "treasure" convey similar sentiments of cherishing someone.

  • How often is this idiom used in everyday conversation?

While it's recognized by many, it might not be as frequently used as some other idioms, but it still finds its place, especially in written or artistic contexts.

  • Are there any common misconceptions related to the phrase?

Some might mistakenly believe it has romantic connotations only, but it can refer to any deeply cherished individual, not just romantic interests.

  • Can the idiom be used to describe objects or only people?

Primarily, it's used for people, but it's not uncommon to see it used metaphorically for cherished objects or pets.

  • How do other cultures interpret this idiom?

Many cultures understand the sentiment, even if they have their own unique idioms. The core idea of treasuring someone deeply is universal.

  • Is the idiom's popularity changing with time?

Like many idioms, its popularity might fluctuate, but its profound meaning ensures it remains in the lexicon.

  • Any tips on using "the apple of one's eye" effectively in conversation?

Given its metaphorical nature, it's best used in scenarios where emphasizing deep affection or value is the aim, making conversations more heartfelt.

Final Thoughts About "The Apple of One's Eye"

Idioms, like "the apple of one's eye," have the power to pack a lot of meaning into just a few words. They give a unique flavor to our conversations, making them more vivid and expressive. Let's recap some of the basic information we've learned about this particular idiom:

  • It has biblical origins, indicating the value and preciousness of the pupil of the eye.
  • The idiom is a testament to the beauty of language and how metaphors can convey deep emotions and sentiments.
  • While primarily used to describe deeply cherished individuals, it can occasionally be used metaphorically for prized objects or pets.
  • The idiom remains relevant today, though its frequency of use might vary based on context and cultural preferences.
  • Such phrases enrich our language, providing a connection to our past and a bridge to understanding deep human emotions.

As we continue to communicate and share stories, idioms like "the apple of one's eye" will remain vital tools in our linguistic arsenal, helping us express complex feelings and ideas with clarity and elegance.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Copyright © 2024 - U.S. Dictionary
Privacy Policy