"You don't fill my eye" is an Arabic idiom.

When looking at somebody, and if that somebody doesn't fill your eye (namely, doesn't occupy all the space in your eye in order for him to be seen clearly and well), that person is not someone you would deign to speak to or look at. He isn't at the same level of intellect or class as you. You see the person as trifling and contemptible. This saying is patently degrading, however it used playfully.


1: Why won't you talk to me, or don't I fill your eye?

2: Perish the thought! You know your value and worth to me, it's just I'm in no mind or mood. Forgive me.

1: Why are you looking at me like that?

2: You don't fill my eye.

In the second example, because the person doesn't fill his eye, occupy all his eye, axiomatically to look at something in more detail we look at length and closely at it. But here he's looking closely out of disgust and no matter how long or how close he looks he won't occupy all his eye space because he sees him as contemptible as it is possible to be.

Any similar idioms?

  • A not-so-playful alternative could be eyesore, perhaps? – BiscuitBoy Jan 6 '16 at 13:03
  • 2
    I like "I couldn't care less about you." English speakers tend to say, "I could care less about you," which is clearly wrong. The former, correct saying means that I could NOT possibly care ANY LESS for you than I already do. In other words, I'm apathetic (have no feelings at all) toward you. Don – rhetorician Jan 6 '16 at 18:47

beneath contempt:

If someone or something is beneath contempt, they are so bad or so unimportant that they do not deserve any attention.


But he's unworthy of mention; beneath contempt.

(Macmillan Dictionary) (Oxford Dictionaries Online)

not give someone the time of day:

Not do the slightest favor for; not greet or speak to; have contempt for.


I wouldn't give that bastard the time of day.

(The Dictionary of American Slang)

  • How would you incorporate that in the first example though? – user151577 Jan 6 '16 at 13:05
  • "Why won't you talk to me, or am I beneath contempt?" "Why won't you talk to me, or can I not have the time of day?" – Kyle Jan 6 '16 at 13:10

A somewhat similar pattern in American English goes like this:

  1. What are you looking at? -- This is generally delivered in a tone of voice that indicates an aggressive challenge.

  2. Not much. -- The response is delivered while looking the speaker from number 1 in the eyes, indicating that "not much" refers to the speaker's worth, not some unrelated object.

Determining whether this is done playfully depends on tone of voice and facial expressions.

  • 1
    This pattern occurs in English English also. – Sod Almighty May 25 '17 at 23:59

Condescend (verb)

To do something in a way that shows you think it is below your social or professional position - used to show disapproval.

'Yes. I know,' Clara said, condescending to look at Rose for the first time. (Longman Dictionary)

Condescending (adjective)

Showing or implying condescension by stooping to the level of one's inferiors, esp in a patronizing way. (Collins)

'I ​hate the way he's so condescending to his ​staff!'

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.