Has anyone ever told you that you were a “sight for sore eyes”? It’s a common phrase that has been spoken for years. Despite its frequent use, many people do not know where the phrase came from or whether it means that your eyes hurt.
The History of a Sight for Sore Eyes
The phrase has been around a lot longer than most people realize. The first recorded use was penned by Jonathan Swift for the book A Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation (also known simply as Polite Conversation) in 1738. There are hints that it was in use prior to publication of Polite Conversation. At the time, the wording was a little different. It read: “The Sight of you is good for sore Eyes.”
The simplified modern version was first used by William Hazlitt in New Monthly Magazine in 1826. He wrote: Garrick’s name as proposed on condition he should act in tragedy and comedy… What a sight for sore eyes that would be!”
The Meaning of a Sight for Sore Eyes
Sore eyes sound painful, but when this phrase is used it typically means something different. The word “sore” usually refers to feelings of fear, worry, tension, or sorrow. The person or thing being viewed brings relief or is a welcome sight to the beholder.
If you are visiting your ophthalmologist, then they may be a sight for sore eyes for another reason. If you’re experiencing sore eyes, contact us to schedule an appointment at our Southeast Michigan office.