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Apple of one's eye

Posted by ESC on November 25, 2000

In Reply to: Apple Of My Eye posted by Reds on November 25, 2000

: Does anyone know the origin of "Apple Of My Eye"?

The "apple" is the pupil of one's eye.

APPLE OF HIS EYE - "A cherished person or object. In old English the eye's pupil was known as the apple because it was thought to be spherical and solid. Since the pupil is a crucial and indispensable portion of the eye, it serves as a symbol of something cherished. An example in the Coverdale Bible of 1535 (Zechariah II, 8) is: 'Who so toucheth you, shal touche the aple of his owne eye.' The expression also appears in Deuteronomy xII, 10 as part of a song spoken by Moses: He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the aple of his eye." From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).

A second reference says: "That which one holds dearest, as in 'You're the apple of my eye.' The phrase is from the Bible (Deut. 32:10), which says the Lord kept Israel 'as the apple of his eye.' 'Pupillam,' or pupil, is actually the Latin for the 'apple' of the phrase, but English translation of the Bible used 'apple' because this was the early word for the pupil of the eye, which was thought to be a solid apple-shaped body. Because it is so essential to sight, the eye's apple, or pupil, is to be cherished and protected and 'the apple of one's eye' came to mean anything extremely precious. The literal translation of the Hebrew phrase, incidentally, is 'You are as the little man in the eye' (one's own reflection in the pupil of another's eye)." "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).