Is there a word for "when you are looking at somebody but thinking something else"?

Like when you stare at somebody but you are thinking of something else.

  • 1
    Are talking about a *blank stare" or a "vacant expression" or perhaps a "far-away look"?
    – Jim
    Mar 5, 2015 at 6:42
  • 1
    Absent minded; inattentive; oblivious; preoccupied.
    – Kris
    Mar 5, 2015 at 6:44
  • 2
    "He's elsewhere."
    – Kris
    Mar 5, 2015 at 6:50
  • 3
    Day-Dreaming and Lost-in-Thoughts can fit the bill. There is also the standard expression Looking London, Talking Tokyo for those suffering from medical condition of strabismus or cross-eyed syndrome. Mar 5, 2015 at 11:01
  • 3
    @Prahlad Yeri - +1 for, "Looking London, Talking Tokyo" Love it, never heard before.
    – user98990
    Mar 5, 2015 at 17:55

4 Answers 4


It sounds to me like you’re describing the old “thousand mile stare", which usually happens to me when I am preoccupied by something weighing heavily on my mind, or when a strong or vivid memory suddenly seizes my attention.

Thousand Mile Stare

To stare blankly while deeply in thought as if you were looking a thousand miles away. Usually brought on by a stressful event or situation, causing one to block out their surroundings and stare off into nothing. See the Urban Dictionary Thousand Mile Stare


It depends on the context of the sentence, and from whose point of view it is.

From the perspective of the viewer, you could say that the person was inadvertently staring at the other person, or was unawares.

The person being looked at could use the idiom he/she looked right through me.


I think absent-minded would fit.


The slang expressions "zoned out" or "spaced out" are pretty close to this, e.g.

"Why are you staring at me?"

"Oh, sorry, I was zoning out."

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