Pull the wool over someone’s eyes

Pull the wool over someone’s eyes is a well-established idiom with an uncertain origin. We will examine the meaning of the idiom pull the wool over someone’s eyes, where it may have come from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

To pull the wool over someone’s eyes means to fool him, to trick or deceive him, to take advantage of him. The image invoked is of someone who can not see through wool that has been placed over his eyes. The idiom is often attributed to the men’s fashion of wearing powdered wigs, which are still worn in the British judiciary. However, the expression pull the wool over someone’s eyes was coined in the United States toward the middle of the nineteenth century, when wig-wearing had long gone out of fashion in the United States. The phrase may well be derived from the image of an unshorn sheep. Related phrases are pulls the wool over someone’s eyes, pulled the wool over someone’s eyes, pulling the wool over someone’s eyes.

Examples

I have been deeply involved in the pursuit of peace for the past 40 years; there is little that I have not heard, and it is not easy to pull the wool over my eyes. (The Jerusalem Post)

It’s almost a natural transgression of life considering I’m sure it’s not on the school curriculum and I certainly don’t have the skills to teach her how to pull the wool over my eyes, being an unconvincing liar myself. (The Irish Times)

She told the camera: ‘I think Abbie has really pulled the wool over his eyes, and he could be hurt at the end of it.’ (The Daily Mail)