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Do mine eyes deceive me?

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on September 14, 2010 at 20:43

In Reply to: Do mine eyes deceive me? posted by Dario on September 13, 2010 at 18:55:

: The phrase "Do mine eyes deceive me?", sometimes quoted as "Doth mine eyes deceive me?" - does anyone know the source?


A couple of hundred years ago, if you mis-saw or misheard something, it was commonplace to say that your eyes or ears “had deceived you”. Thus, logically, a normal way of saying “Gosh, is that really what it looks/sounds like?” was “Do my[or ‘mine’] eyes/ears deceive me?” It’s not an invention by a named writer.
However, I suspect that the reason many people still use what would otherwise be an archaic figure of speech is because of the well-known nonsense inversion of it in ‘Artemus Ward His Book’: “Do me eyes deceive me earsight? Is it some dreams?”

- “Doth mine eyes…” is just an error by someone trying to use olde-worlde speech and getting it wrong, because the verb form ‘doth’ is singular – it’s an archaic equivalent of ‘does’. Once upon a time a one-eyed man could have said “Doth my eye deceive me?” but at no time in the history of English has “Doth mine eyes…” been a possible thing to say.