"beady eye"

susanna76

Senior Member
Romanian
UK book:

"Stay off the Internet and I think you'll find your health will improve tremendously," he continues, fixing me with a beady eye."

"She stops sweeping clay across my temples and fixes me with a beady eye. 'Did you sunbathe in your youth?' " [NB: The questions refers to an earlier comment about the main character's facial pigmentation.]

So what's this beady eye about? It's certainly not a desired thing. In what contexts do you use "beady eye," and why does it have a negative connotation -- any ideas?
 
Last edited:
  • shawnee

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    It is when someone fixes their gaze on you. At worst there is an unflinching intensity about it that can be unsettling, like a prelude to anger. But in this context it appears to be a milder form of non verbal confrontation.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Here's dictionary.com on "beady":
    1.beadlike; small, globular, and glittering: beady eyes.
    and on "beady-eyed":
    1.marked by or having small, glittering eyes, esp. eyes that seem to gleam with malice, avarice, or lechery.
    2.staring with suspicion, skepticism, etc.: The gambler gave the newcomer a beady-eyed look.
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I regret to say that "beady eye" is not listed with The Word Detective, the logical reference source for this description. Nor was I able to find it explained in any other almost logical reference source. Using, then, my simple memory a beady eye is one that at least appears to be quite small like a bead. It would give the impression of a squint. I might also add, the impression of having a degree of savvy intelligence. In literature, when I was a lad it seemed to me that at least on character in pirate or other adventure stories had a beady eye. That person, of course, was one with a negative connotation. using beady eye might be old fashioned literature.
     
    Last edited:

    MichaelW

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    "Beady eye" refers to an eye which like a bead, shiny or glittery but without any expression, like a glass bead - or like a snake's eye, and is often used of someone who (like a snake) is emotionlessy concentrating on taking something or on striking at something, that is, predatory.
     
    Last edited:

    Wishfull

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Hi.
    Beads are small pieces of coloured glass, wood, or plastic with a hole
    throught the middle. Beads are colourful and bright.

    So beady eyes refer to small, round, and bright eyes.

    If it refers to beautiful eyes, the meaning is good meaning.

    But to the contrary, medically speaking, bright eyes is the state of pupil dilation, which is the state of sympathetic nerve activation, in other words "increased adrenergic drive".
    The state is associated with strong stress such as war, battle, strong desire, suspicion, anger, strong emotion, etc.

    When a person is in perfect peace state, parasympathetic nerve is activated and his/her pupil is contracted.
    So beady eyes is associated with something bad, I think.
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Hi.
    Beads are small pieces of coloured glass, wood, or plastic with a hole
    throught the middle. Beads are colourful and bright.

    So beady eyes refer to small, round, and bright eyes.

    If it refers to beautiful eyes, the meaning is good meaning.

    But to the contrary, medically speaking, bright eyes is the state of pupil dilation, which is the state of sympathetic nerve activation, in other words "increased adrenergic drive".
    The state is associated with strong stress such as war, battle, strong desire, suspicion, anger, strong emotion, etc.

    When a person is in perfect peace state, parasympathetic nerve is activated and his/her pupil is contracted.
    So beady eyes is associated with something bad, I think.
    I can see why it could be that it originated like that.

    MichaelW, I like the analogy with a snake's eye too.

    So "predatory" it is.

    Thank you all!
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    For some reason, unsupported by any source I can find, I always thought that this was a reference to the small metal bead that forms the foresight of many weapons. If I have my beady eye on you I "have my sights" on you. I am focussing my attention on you with the possibility of unleashing the dreadful weapon of my anger on you should you misbehave in some way.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    For some reason, unsupported by any source I can find, I always thought that this was a reference to the small metal bead that forms the foresight of many weapons.
    That's interesting, panj - I've always associated it with the small round black eyes of predatory/scavenger birds like magpies and ravens....
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    That's interesting, panj - I've always associated it with the small round black eyes of predatory/scavenger birds like magpies and ravens....
    I agree with Loob too.
    I think there are two very distinct uses, you see.

    There is the simple descriptive use, in which certain types of eye are described as beady because they look like beads.

    And there is the metaphorical use in which someone who does not have a bead-like eye nevertheless may be described as having their beady eye on someone or something.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    And I, in turn, agree with panj about there being two uses, literal and metaphorical....

    There's far too much agreement going on here:eek:
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top