Starry-eyed and stars in one’s eyes

Starry-eyed and stars in one’s eyes are variations of an idiom that may not be as old as you think. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common sayings starry-eyed and stars in one’s eyes, where they came from, and some examples of their idiomatic usage in sentences.

Starry-eyed describes someone who is overly optimistic; someone who is hopeful for something that most probably will not happen; someone who has an inflated opinion of his ability to be successful. Someone who is starry-eyed may also be said to have stars in his eyes. Both expressions came into use in the twentieth century, though starry-eyed is the much more popular of the two expressions. The image is of someone who is lit up with hope, so much so that his eyes shine like stars.


The fourteen-year-old Texan native weaves listeners through a tale of starry-eyed connection and commitment in “I Left a Party for You,” a dazzling bedroom pop song beaming with catchy melodies and intimate emotion. (Atwood Magazine)

Viola Davis stars as the Mother of Blues while Boseman serves as her cornet player who’s starry-eyed jazz ambitions lead to more misfortune than luck. (Newsweek Magazine)

It was a beautiful day, out by the putting green and everyone was so happy and celebrating and you had stars in your eyes looking at him … (Providence Journal)

The older Dal-mi (Bae Suzy) has stars in her eyes and hopes to successfully launch her own company as she struggles through a host of part-time jobs. (The Hindu)

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