I googled the phrase "make one's eyes bleed". It seems to me that this is a sort of idiom. I am not quite sure in which situations you say this. Is this expression often used in English, or it is rather rare? I also found the expression 'bleed from the eyes' in the urban dictionary.

'Bleed from the eyes' is used when one really doesn't want to even consider doing something, as it may cause them brain trauma. Can also be described as being more appealing than the activity they are trying to get out of.

As it seems to me, this definition contains two opposite meanings. On the one hand, it is used when someone considers something annoying, dull or tedious or even ugly. On the other hand, it can be used to describe something pleasant, attractive as compared to other things. Am I right? In my opinion, this definition is ambiguous in this dictionary.

Is it possible to express the opinion on some aspects of linear algebra, using this expression?

Matrix operations are so boring that my eyes begin bleeding every time I deal with these things;


I find matrices unbearable, they make my eyes bleed.

  • 1
    I can't say I've ever heard this. One that may be close to it is It makes my heart bleed, usually uttered sarcastically if someone is trying out a spurious sob story to gain sympathy.
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 16:20
  • hyphema-bleeding of the eye, is what I have heard of.
    – Misti
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 16:48
  • @WS2 Although they are very similar, the bleeding heart has completely different connotations. Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 17:21

4 Answers 4


Both your example sentences are perfectly fine and exactly how people use the expression.

The Urban Dictionary definition is badly worded (if you’re just getting started with using Urban Dictionary, get used to this—most entries on there are horribly worded). What it means is that you can also say something like,

“Do matrix operations? Gah, I’d rather bleed from the eyes!”

This emphasises that even bleeding from the eyes is more appealing than doing matrix operations.

  • Thanks for the explanation. It is clear to me now. I think, I'd better avoid using this expression, as some people would not understand what I mean by saying this.
    – user93573
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 18:17

I wonder where the Urban Dictionary gets some of these definitions... I think they should hang out with some people who are over 25 once in a while.

Logically, "bleed from the eyes" is about seeing something unpleasant:

"My grandmother showed up in a bikini and I started to bleed from the eyes."

The most common phrase (US) for not wanting to do something is still (the tried and true) "I'd rather have (a) root canal."

"Go to prom with Mildred Goggledorf? I'd rather have root canal."

The only time a task would cause bleeding from the eyes, is if was long and/or arduous, and involved strain on the eyes.

"I tried to proofread that idiot's report, but I had to stop because my eyes were bleeding."

"The Staff Sargeant made us do push-ups until our eyes were bleeding."

The only other "bleeding eye" usage I'm familiar with is when you want to inform someone that it is perfectly obvious that they were smoking marijuana before the big meeting - but you don't necessarily want to inform everyone else there. In which case you would stare into the person's face and say, "Close your eyes before you bleed to death." (A reference to their characteristically bloodshot eyes.)

  • +1 just for Mildred Goggledorf alone. (Incidentally, I am over 25 and I have no qualms whatever about using bleeding from the eyes about non-visual things.) Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 17:22
  • This is a new one on me. And I'm not clear how 'root-canal surgery' has become a bete-noir among Americans. My dentist does it quite painlessly.
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 19:11
  • Well, it's a really old one to a lot of other folks. Dentistry was around for quite a while before anesthesia caught up. And, even now, depending on the fears of the patient, and what we (in the biz) call the "hotness" of the tooth, it is still generally thought of as a very unpleasant experience. (On a par with: "I'd rather give birth to a bowling ball.)
    – Oldbag
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 19:24
  • The amount of pain (abstracting from pain killers) can depend, I've heard, on which tooth is involved - in particular, whether its in the upper or lower jaw. (But IANAD.)
    – Drew
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 1:39

I sometimes say.."Do i have to be bleeding from the eyeballs to get you to (for example) take out the trash?". Well I had eye surgery and am actually bleeding from my eye. So the myth is busted. Bleeding from your eyes does not cause someone to do something they don'twant to do. And it hurts. A lot.

  • Welcome to ELU. Please reflect on how to answer the question with your research.
    – livresque
    Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 4:35

Your interpretations and usage are fine. Don't be put off with a little ambiguity when using colorful jargon even though some academics may cry foul. Keep in mind the grammarians are the the last to catch on to new developments.

  • There is no ambiguity in the UD entry, just bad wording. And the people who enter definitions into UD are, in general, anything but grammarians. Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 17:23

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