black eye


discoloration of the skin around the eye, resulting from a blow, bruise, etc.
a mark of shame, dishonor, etc.: These slums are a black eye to our town.
damaged reputation: Your behavior will give the family a black eye.

Origin of black eye

First recorded in 1595–1605 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for black eye

blemish, disgrace, dishonor, shame, smear, stain, stigma, shiner

Examples from the Web for black eye

Historical Examples of black eye

  • The so-called "black-eye" is a typical example of this degree of bruise.

  • But the black-eye dealt the residential district long ago had not yet cleared up.

    The Crimson Tide

    Robert W. Chambers

  • At times I have eaten in cabins where they had only corn bread and "black-eye peas" cooked in plain water.

  • There was many a black-eye already, many a contusion: more than one knife—surreptitiously drawn—was already stained with red.

    Lord Tony's Wife

    Baroness Emmuska Orczy

  • It was in this Inn that I was cried over by my rosy little sister, because I had acquired a black-eye in a fight.

British Dictionary definitions for black eye

black eye


bruising round the eye
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for black eye

"discoloration around the eye from injury" c.1600, from black (adj.) + eye (n.). Figurative sense of "injury to pride, rebuff" is by 1744; that of "bad reputation" is from 1880s. In reference to dark eyes, often as a mark of beauty, from 1660s. Black-eyed, of peas, attested from 1728. The black-eyed Susan as a flower (various species) so called from 1881, for its appearance. It also was the title of a poem by John Gay (1685-1732), which led to a popular British stage play of the same name in the mid-19c.

All in the Downs the fleet was moored,
The streamers waving in the wind,
When black-eyed Susan came aboard,
"Oh! where shall I my true love find?
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true,
If my sweet William sails among the crew?"
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

black eye in Medicine

black eye


A bruised discoloration of the flesh surrounding the eye.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with black eye

black eye

A mark of shame, a humiliating setback, as in That there are enough homeless folks to need another shelter is a black eye for the administration. This metaphor alludes to having discolored flesh around the eye resulting from a blow. The term is also used literally, as in The mugger not only took Bill's wallet but gave him a black eye. [Late 1800s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.