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I'm looking for a word that can best describe a thing that you see when you first come to a place, a thing so strange or unusual that you didn't think something like that could exist (or you have been aware of it, but it's far more than you expected), even though it is normal stuff in the area.

It can be a (strange) custom of a country that a visitor came across for the first time, or the bookworm's house, filled with books. It can be the gorgeous sight of the Pyramids and the fact that you have never thought how small your are compared to it, even though you have known almost everything about it. In my language (Vietnamese), there is a phrase for it: hit the eyes.

Do we have any equivalent phrase for hit the eyes in English?


Note: The meaning in the Vietnamese phrase is mostly for the first thing you see. It may be something special to the person, it may be not. But it is the first that this person see. The thing may be (or even just) a normal thing of the place/object, but it keeps appearing enough so that the person won't forget the impression, although when time pass by they can get used to it and feel back to normal again. When I say about the impression, I say that it will be the thing that they tend to remember first when telling others about this.

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    The OP leaves me wondering if the word or phrase you seek is primarily concerned with your reaction to a scene of beauty, magnificence, or strangeness (wonder, awe, astonishment, etc.) or that some aspect of the experience previously underappreciated suddenly and unexpectedly “jumped-out” at you (It can be the ... sight of the Pyramids and the fact that you have never thought how small you are compared to it, even though you have known almost everything about it). These are quite different focuses of concern. – user98990 May 1 '15 at 17:10
  • yeah, I am about to edit it to make it less vague. I want to focus on the first one. – Ooker May 1 '15 at 17:13
  • For example, even though you knew the Great Pyramid was big, it wasn't until you actually stood before it that it's actual IMMENSITY became conspicuously or glaringly apparent. Is this your focus, or is it the awe and astonishment you seek to describe? – user98990 May 1 '15 at 17:15
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    Plain old "Wow!" works pretty well. – Hot Licks May 1 '15 at 17:15
  • @LittleEva I'll try to explain better. The meaning in the Vietnamese phrase is mostly for the first thing you see. It may be something special to the person, it may be not. But it is the first that this person see. The thing is just a normal thing of the place/object, but it keeps appearing enough so that the person won't forget the impression, although when time pass by they can get used to it and feel back to normal again. When I say about the impression, I say that it will be the thing that they tend to remember first when telling others about this. Is it less vague now? – Ooker May 1 '15 at 17:29
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The single word that you would use is striking.

That strikes the attention of an observer; producing a vivid impression on the mind; telling, impressive, unusually remarkable. [OED]


People in red satin evening gowns, the pyramids in Egypt, and platform heels with fish in them are also striking. [vocabulary.com]


There is also the idiom not believe one's eyes that you can consider.

Fig. not to believe what one is seeing; to be shocked or dumbfounded at what one is seeing.

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs

Example:

When we arrived, I couldn't believe my eyes. Picture it – pyramids – gigantic pyramids of stone stretching into the heavens surrounded on all sides by miles and miles of bleach white sand.

The Hands of Aldulan - Book Two: The Isle of Dusk By Eric A. Radulski

There is also the ear version: not believe one's ears.

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    I think striking is the one. When I look it up in the English - Vietnamese dictionary, one of its meanings is hit the eye. Thank you so much – Ooker May 1 '15 at 17:54
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    there is even a phrase "to strike the eye" macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/strike-the-your-eye – Ooker May 2 '15 at 11:44
  • Striking captures being impressed nicely, but it doesn't capture the "at first sight" aspect. – Ben Aveling Apr 16 at 12:35
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How about something related to the word awe, as in awe-inspiring, awesome (in its original meaning), a thing that leaves you awe-struck, or a synonym like breathtaking.

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    I like those :-) but I think it would be more helpful to the OP and future users of the website if you included definitions and references. – Lucky May 1 '15 at 16:41
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stunning can have both good and bad connotations (LDOCE def):

extremely attractive or beautiful

Finally tonight, the Mars rover Opportunity today sent stunning new images of Mars back to earth. (ODO)

very surprising or shocking

Stunning news

to stun is a corresponding verb, meaning:

Astonish or shock (someone) so that they are temporarily unable to react

The powerful film shows that the beautiful game rears a truly ugly side, which is bound to shock and stun audiences. (ODO)

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Based upon OP's clarifying edit, how about

impressive adjective: evoking admiration through size, quality, or skill: grand, imposing, or awesome. "an impressive view of the mountains"

synonyms: magnificent, majestic, imposing, splendid, spectacular, grand, awe-inspiring, striking, stunning, breathtaking, impactful; see Google impressive

astonish verb: ; 3rd person present: astonishes; past tense: astonished; past participle: astonished; gerund or present participle: astonishing surprise or impress (someone) greatly.

"Though I'd seen it in photographs, the Great Pyramid's immensity is astonishing when you see it in real life for the first time!"

synonyms: amaze, astound, stagger; see Google astonish

or perhaps one of these adjectives

conspicuous adjective: standing out so as to be clearly visible. "he was very thin, with a conspicuous Adam's apple"

attracting notice or attention. See Google conspicuous synonyms: easily seen, clear, visible, noticeable, discernible, perceptible, detectable

glaring adjective: 2. highly obvious or conspicuous. "there is a glaring omission in the above data" synonyms: obvious, conspicuous, unmistakable, inescapable, unmissable, striking; See Google glaring

  • astonish seems to be more like surprise. I'm not sure if you are impressed, you are surprise. Anyway, thanks for your effort to make my question clearer. – Ooker May 1 '15 at 17:56
  • Your word, not mine, "won't forget the impression" = impressive. :-) – user98990 May 1 '15 at 17:59
  • yeah, that's why I said "I'm not sure" :D – Ooker May 1 '15 at 18:01
  • Yes, "astonish" connotes with "surprize", again based upon your wording, "you didn't think something like that could exist (or you have been aware of it, but it's far more than you expected.) = surprise. – user98990 May 1 '15 at 18:06
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    Well, in any case Ooker, "astonishment" is not merely surprise. :-) – user98990 May 1 '15 at 23:09
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You could refer to it as the first thing that caught your eye.

Catch one's eye

Attract one's attention, cause notice, stand out, appear, fascinate, be conspicuous, be noticeable, be visible, be seen, be notable, be noted, be eye-catching

(Word Reference)

  • can you use it for negative thing? Can attract be used for negative thing? Also, can eye be singular? – Ooker May 1 '15 at 16:00
  • Yes, you can use it for either positive or negative things, although I think it's more often used for positive things. In this case, eye is singular because it's being used idiomatically to mean "sight" (like in the phrases "see with the naked eye" and "as far as the eye can see"). – Nicole May 1 '15 at 16:05
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"an impressive sight" carries a positive connotation. If you are looking for a negative meaning, I suggest "impactful".

  • What I found most impressive was their size/color/elaborate construction.
  • impressive (adj) "deserving attention, admiration, or respect : making a good impression"
  • impactful (adj) "having a strong and often bad effect on (something or someone)" - MW
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  • Amazing : causing a feeling of puzzlement or awe

Amazing things are also awesome: in the old of sense "causing awe" and the recent sense of "really cool."

  • Bedazzled : To bedazzle is to charm or impress

(vocabulary.com)

protected by user140086 Feb 27 '16 at 4:17

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