The apple of one’s eye

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The apple of one’s eye is an extremely old idiom, dating back over one thousand years. Originally, the apple of one’s eye referred to a part of the human anatomy. We’ll look at the term’s meaning and origins, famous works in which it appears, and its use in a few sentences.

The apple of one’s eye describes a thing or person which someone loves above all others, someone’s favorite person or thing, a person or thing that he is proud of. The phrase the apple of one’s eye dates back at least to the ninth century, first seen in King Aelfred of Wessex’ Gregory’s Pastoral Care. It was probably used in conversation long before that time. Originally, the apple of one’s eye referred to the pupil of the human eye. It was believed that the pupil was a round, solid object. In a time without proper eye care, sight was a precious commodity. It wasn’t long before the apple of one’s eye became a metaphor for something precious. This metaphor was used several times in the King James version of the Bible, as in Psalms: “Keep me as the apple of thine eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” Shakespeare used the phrase in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “…Hit with Cupid’s archery, Sink in apple of his eye.” The term was resurrected when Sir Walter Scott used it in his novel Old Mortality, published in 1816: “Poor Richard was to me as an eldest son, the apple of my eye.”


That child, whom my husband and I call School James, is the apple of my eye and the light of our lives – he is exactly the kid who, back in my delusional 20-something fantasies of motherhood, I imagined I’d have. (The Globe and Mail)

While the razor was cool, his bronze medal is the apple of his eye. (The Tri-City Herald)