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I've once heard a person make a reference to another person as sleeping with their eyes open. I wonder if there is another way to take this expression other than literally. Thanks.

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    I think it is sleep with one eye open - sleep very lightly, aware of what is happening around one - :oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/… – user66974 Jun 21 '16 at 20:03
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    It means to be on the alert, watchful. The idea is that of a watchdog which, though apparently sleeping, is always on guard. – user66974 Jun 21 '16 at 20:22
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    What @Josh61 said. Sleeping with one's eyes open sounds like some kind of eggcorn. – FumbleFingers Jun 23 '16 at 16:56
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    @Josh- it might also mean that while one looks like they are paying attention (their eyes are open) they are actually not paying attention because they are asleep. John, how did you miss seeing him enter the building? You were staring right at it. “I guess was sleeping with my eyes open.” It depends on context as to which meaning applies. – Jim Jun 24 '16 at 18:52
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Sleeping with one eye open may be an expression meaning to sleep lightly, aware of what is going on around, but apparently it actually happens: it is a condition known as lagophthalmos.

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Apparently, some people do sleep with both eyes open.

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It is not meant to be taken literally. It essentially means to be careful, or watchful. The phrase is generally context dependent.

E.g. "I don't trust her, you should sleep with your eyes/one eye open" would mean to wary of her.

  • This reads more like a comment. – GoldenGremlin Jun 21 '16 at 20:08
  • I'm not allowed to comment, sorry. Except my own answers.. – Ricky Jun 21 '16 at 20:09
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    Well, you might want to reference a dictionary or other source which corroborates your point that it is not to be taken literally, as well as your definition. – GoldenGremlin Jun 21 '16 at 20:10
  • Does it mean being careful or watchful about anything in particular? – Jack Maddington Jun 21 '16 at 20:12
  • I don't have anything to cite but the phrase is generally context dependent. E.g. "I don't trust her, you should sleep with your eyes/one eye open" would mean to wary of her. – Ricky Jun 21 '16 at 20:15

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