From Virginibus Puerisque by Stevenson:

I see women marrying indiscriminately with staring burgesses and ferret-faced, white-eyed boys, and men dwell in contentment with noisy scullions, or taking into their lives acidulous vestals.

What could this "white-eyed" mean? Timid?

I ventured on some googling, and found only rare instances, besides physiological senses. Such as "With an expression of white-eyed wonder, he saw me bounding up the road toward him."

  • Did you search?
    – Kris
    Nov 26, 2013 at 5:54
  • @Kris: Naturally. Found only rare instances, besides physiological meanings. Such as "With an expression of white-eyed wonder, he saw me bounding up the road toward him." Nov 26, 2013 at 5:57
  • When you ask for meaning, you need to show where you looked already and what you found. That's a prerequisite on this site.
    – Kris
    Nov 26, 2013 at 5:59
  • 1
    White-eyed wonder sounds like a mistake for wide-eyed wonder. I wonder if the original could also be an error. Wide-eyed - meaning eyes opened wide in interest or shock - is relatively common. I've looked at the original text and neither white-eyed nor wide-eyed makes much sense though.
    – user24964
    Nov 26, 2013 at 9:55
  • 1
    @TheMathemagician, ‘wide-eyed’ would make sense here, I’d say. The notion of a staring [i.e., showy, conspicuous] burgess contrasts quite nicely with that of a ferret-faced [i.e., unkempt, shy, blushing], wide-eyed [innocent, in awe, agape] boy—neither being, I would guess by the author’s tone, a very suitable hand to seek in marriage. Nov 26, 2013 at 11:28

1 Answer 1


Condition unique to dark skinned people in which the pigment temporarily leaves the skin after receiving a punch to the eye. See also "skinny lip".


A whiteeye is someone doesn't do any illegal drugs, and judges people that do use illegal drugs as being inferior to themselves.

Source: Urban Dictionary.

  • 3
    In ELU it is de rigueur to cite the source whenever you directly quote from another website. (In this case, the answer is copied verbatim from urbandictionary's whiteeye entry.) Please edit your answer and cite the source. Nov 26, 2013 at 5:08
  • Good find, kid!
    – Kris
    Nov 26, 2013 at 5:53
  • You think that Stevenson meant people of African descent? Nov 26, 2013 at 5:59
  • @CopperKettle It's more likely that it was awe-struck that was meant rather. However, the answerer's effort needs to be appreciated.
    – Kris
    Nov 26, 2013 at 6:01

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