After rereading it for what seems to be the hundredth time, I realized that I never understood the meaning of this half a sentence. What's really tripping me up is the all eyes in her white face bit.

Is it just a British idiomatic expression? It's different from the all eyes idiom, which means to watch someone or something with a lot of interest: We were all eyes as the celebrity guests emerged from the car.

Here is the paragraph for reference:

A few seconds later, there was a click, and the luminescent spheres the Deluminator had sucked from the lamps in the tent flew into the cellar: Unable to rejoin their sources, they simply hung there, like tiny suns, flooding the underground room with light. Harry saw Luna, all eyes in her white face, and the motionless figure of Ollivander the wandmaker, curled up on the floor in the corner.

I've learned a lot of British slangs and idioms by reading Harry Potter and I would not be surprised if this was one too.

  • 4
    Wouldn't this be better on the english stack exchange?
    – cde
    Feb 18, 2015 at 6:36
  • It means that popularity and great prose style don't necessarily go hand in hand.
    – Robusto
    Feb 18, 2015 at 17:04
  • 1
    It just means "(Her face was) a) all eyes = eyes big and wide and b) white from shock or fear.
    – Oldcat
    Feb 19, 2015 at 0:57
  • I came here because I had the exact same question! I initially thought it was a typo (that JKR meant that all eyes were on Luna). Or that it was an unnecessary clarification of Luna's biological anatomy. I think it's most likely a statement of how large Luna's eyes are, as others have said. In other words, when Harry saw Luna he saw that her white face was "all eyes". That the sudden change of lighting startled and dazzled her, as the move from pitch darkness to full light often does. Dec 6, 2016 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


Taking a guess from the context of the chapter, the scoobies are in a dark escape-proof cellar prison, hearing Hermonie being tortured by Bellatrix. Luna and the others have been there for a while, and we have been told/implied that Luna has also been tortured. Dean had been bloodied. Add to that, the dark room was just lit up by tiny suns.

This leads to a possible meaning. That is all eyes in her white face could be related to the phrase all teeth and lips (meaning huge smile or grin) or wide-eyed (Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises trope), meaning that her eyes were huge in comparison to normal, and her face was pale and drained of blood from fright (you know, more pale than normal). She is likely terrified of the situation, and of what she sees around her when the lights turn on.

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