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eye opener, an

1

A startling or shocking revelation, as in The first sentence of his speech was a real eye opener. This expression alludes to widening one's eyes with surprise. [Mid-1800s]

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2

A strong alcoholic drink taken early in the morning, as in After a late night and little sleep, he generally needed an eye opener to jolt him awake. This usage alludes to the alleged wakening effect of such a beverage. [Early 1800s]

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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.