The expression sight unseen means:
- Without having viewed the object in question, as in He bought the horse sight unseen.
The American Heritage Dictionary notes that:
- This seeming oxymoron (how can a sight, which means something seen, be not seen?) dates from the late 1800s.
According to Grammarphobia:
- The Oxford English Dictionary says “sight unseen” is an American expression for “without inspection” and dates from the 1890s. The OED’s earliest citation, from 1892, is in Dialect Notes, a journal of the American Dialect Society: “To trade knives sight unseen is to swap without seeing each other’s knife.”
There appear to be earlier usages of the expression as in A History of American Mannfactores from 1608 to 1860, published in 1866 :
- The price of a cow and calf, he says, was 50s., " sight unseen, be she big or little, they are never very curious to examine that point."
What is the origin and first usage of this idiomatic expression?
What are other common idiomatic expressions (AmE or BrE) that convey the same meaning?