a read for sore eyes [sight]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Donnie, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. Donnie Banned

    Spanish, England.
    "I would like to thank Geoffrey Vitale for a delightful post - truly a read
    for sore eyes!"

    Why "a read for sore eyes"?
  2. Sallyb36

    Sallyb36 Senior Member

    Liverpool UK
    British UK
    It comes from a phrase "a sight for sore eyes", which we say about something that is good, that we're happy to see. For example, if you haven't seen a loved one for ages, and you're happy to see them and they look well, you might say " you're a sight for sore eyes".
    A read for sore eyes means that it is a good read.
  3. Donnie Banned

    Spanish, England.
    Many thanks, Sally.
  4. Sallyb36

    Sallyb36 Senior Member

    Liverpool UK
    British UK
    you're welcome :)
  5. Yôn Senior Member

    Around here, as far as I know, a "sight for sore eyes" is something NOT good.

    Look at that pile of dirty dishes, it's a sight for sore eyes.

    As in, it looks aweful. I would take "a read for sore eyes" to mean something NOT pleasant to read.

    Maybe you'll have to ask the author...

  6. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
  7. Sallyb36

    Sallyb36 Senior Member

    Liverpool UK
    British UK
    Here in the UK it is DEFINITELY something you are pleased to see.
  8. gotitadeleche Senior Member

    Texas, U.S.A.
    U.S.A. English
    :eek: I wonder where "around here" is? This post surprises me. I have always heard "a sight for sore eyes" to mean something GOOD and PLEASANT.
  9. languageGuy Senior Member

    Kansas City, MO
    USA and English
    I found this bit.

    A welcome visitor - someone you are glad to see.

    This phrase was first recorded by Jonathan Swift, in A complete collection of genteel and ingenious conversation, 1738: "The Sight of you is good for sore Eyes."
  10. Wayland Banned

    Sorry to disagree Yon but this is absolutely contrary to any use of the phrase that I have come across here in the UK.
  11. That's interesting, Yon.

    Please give us a clue as to where 'around here' is.

  12. NerdBird Senior Member

    Coventry, England
    English - England
    I live in the West Midlands and I always thought it had the same meaning as Yon until someone from Devon told me I was a sight for sore eyes. I thought they were being rude and telling me I looked a mess!!! :D
  13. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    It might be noted that Yon made that extraordinary observation three years ago. For the record, around here a sight for sore eyes is a good thing: that is, something so pleasant that just seeing it would make eyes that are sore feel better. I really don't know how anyone could understand the meaning of these words in any other way: after all, this is not a sight to make eyes sore, but a sight to bring before eyes that are already sore, in order to make them not worse but better.
  14. Sowka

    Sowka Senior Member

    German, Northern Germany
    Hello :)

    This proves: Language is the source of misunderstandings ;)

    But wouldn't this "negative" meaning rather be expressed by something like "a sight to make your eyes sore"?
  15. NerdBird Senior Member

    Coventry, England
    English - England
    Not necessarily, for example there is an advert for anti-aging skin cream with the caption 'for younger looking skin' meaning it gives the consumer younger looking skin not that the skin cream is meant to be applied to younger looking skin.
    One of those fascinating nuances of language :)
  16. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    May I return to the original topic, and say I find the expression "a read for sore eyes" very strange. It borrows from "a sight," but since reading a book is a lengthy process, and nothing like the instantaneous recognition of a well-met friend-- how do you escape the absurdity of the idea that extended reading relieves sore eyes? No matter how well-written a book is, if your eyes are fatigued when you sit down to read it-- well aren't they going to get more so as you continue to read?

    Seems to me an unintentional contradiction is set up which makes the expression comical, in a painful sort of way.
  17. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    They are both metaphorical. A sight for sore eyes doesn't actually do anything to your eyes and you may look at a "site for sore eyes" for a long time. It is an effect on the viewer of making life seem better in some way. Further, there's no strong limitation to the immediacy of it, although it is often used in the sense of "relief from some stressful situation". Therefore reading a book can do the same - for possibly even longer actual benefit to the psyche.
  18. Wayland Banned

    Oh Mr foxfirebrand is there no poetry in your soul?:) It is difficult to ascertain without more context but perhaps the writer was knowingly perpetrating a bad pun.

    PS. Thanks GWB.I had not realised that we were commenting on an old thread, tilting at windmills that are no longer there.
  19. Trisia

    Trisia mod de viață

    We're missing some background information here. Still, I interpreted the "delightful post" part of the sentence as referring to a blog post, article or something of the kind (which wouldn't be long at all).

    Which doesn't mean I like the expression, or don't find it clunky.

    EDIT: Oh. I'm late. :)
  20. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I hear an ox lumbering around not far from my burrow. Gee I hope he doesn't step in one of my exit-strategy holes and wrench a shank in it.
  21. Wayland Banned

    If this is an insult then I take it on the chin without cavil. I support freedom of expression and hold no grudges. Peace brother.
  22. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    It wasn't an insult, more of a conversation stopper owing to the zealotry of mods for staying on topic-- their call, no complaints here about it. That's what the PM system is for, which you already know as you've continued the dialogue there. As I said, I like freedom of expression too, but if I spend too much of my ration here, I don't get to unlimber it somewhere else where I might really need to. Cheers!

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