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cause raised eyebrows

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Also, raise eyebrows. Cause surprise or disapproval, as in At school his purple hair usually causes raised eyebrows. This transfer of a physical act (raising one's eyebrows) to the feelings it may express took place in the early 1900s. Lytton Strachey used the term in The Eminent Victorians (1918): “The most steady-going churchman hardly raises an eyebrow at it now.”

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

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