I came across the word eye-glazing in the article of today’s Time magazine (Sept 9) titled ‘Slow Down! Why Some Languages Sound So Fast?’, which I'm sure will interest 'language buffs'.

It begins with (Sorry for a bit lengthy):

“Here's one of the least-interesting paragraphs you've ever read:

'Last night I opened the front door to let the cat out. It was such a beautiful night that I wandered down to the garden to get a breath of fresh air. Then I heard a click as the door closed behind me.’

OK, it becomes a little less eye-glazing after that, with the speaker getting arrested while trying to force the door back open. Still, we ain't talking Noel Coward here.”

I checked online dictionaries to find the exact meaning of eye-glazing. I was able to find many examples of usages of this word, e.g.,

  • But the rest of my audience was growing restive, with here and there an eye glazing over. —The Burglar on the Prowl
  • I mean, thousands of pages, stuff that's almost eye glazing to read. —CNN Transcript Dec 4, 2002
  • The statute has become such an eye glazing mess that it’s easy to forget that in 1965 it was beautifully designed and absolutely essential. —The Volokh Conspiracy

From the above examples I guessed the word means ‘making eyes unfocused, blurred’ (Correct me if I'm wrong), but I couldn’t find its definition in any dictionaries including Cambridge, Merriam-Webster Online, nor Urban Dictionary.

I wonder why eye-glazing which looks as if very colloquial is not registered in any dictionaries, while they accommodate eye-related compounds such as 'eye opening,' 'eye-catching,' and 'eye popping'. Isn’t eye-glazing a popular word?

  • As for dictionaries: "1977 N.Y. Times 14 Sept. c21/1 The proceedings..ran on for an eye-glazing three-and-a-half hours."; "2012 Atlantic Oct. 68/1 Campaign finance is a deeply boring subject, so eye-glazing that one might almost suspect a conspiracy to make it that way." (OED) oed.com/viewdictionaryentry/Entry/67296
    – Kris
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 7:04
  • First, it not a word. And no, it's not all that popular. It's just a phrase, not much of a set phrase, certainly not an idiom. So it doesn't figure as a main entry in dictionaries or words, phrases or idioms.
    – Kris
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 7:07

4 Answers 4


"Eye-glazing" isn't that common at all. "Eye glazing over" is certainly used, as in "his eyes glazed over". In your main example, the person is commenting on "one of the least-interesting paragraphs" you have ever read, and he is saying, "ok, after these very boring paragraphs, it gets less boring(eye-glazing)".
The term "eye glazing" is usually used in the sense that the person is so bored that his eye glazes over. Also, the "The Burglar on the Prowl" example has the same meaning of boredom.

But is this common? Is "eye glazing" common usage? Taking a look at an Ngram:

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By far, "glaze over" is used the most, whereas "eye glazing" although it is used, is not that common. Perhaps that's why it isn't included in most dictionaries.

  • 7
    I don't know where you get that "...person enjoys this so much that his eye [glazes over]" meaning from. So far as I'm concerned, "eye-glazing" stuff is always "mind-numbingly boring". Certainly that's the case in all OP's examples. But I agree with @Cerberus - I'd either say "mind-numbing" or "eyes glazed over". Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 1:46
  • 3
    I heard people say, "When she eats that fruit cake, her eyes glazes over." It's used for pleasure as well
    – Thursagen
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 5:06
  • @Thursagen Not much any longer. (Where I live.) Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 6:15

I usually hear this as his eyes glazed over or glazed-over eyes; the phrase glaze over seems well documented: glaze over on Dictionary.com. Your derived adjective eye-glazing sounds less common to my canine ears, though still perfectly clear.

  • 2
    It took me far too long to realise why you'd have canine ears. (facepalm!) Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 20:48
  • 1
    @JamesWebster How could you? He has 6 of them! Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 12:40
  • That's not the question, though.
    – Kris
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 7:08

I don't think ‘eye glazing’ is as common a term as eye-opening, which has almost become a single word.

There is a journalistic term mego (from - My Eyes Glaze Over) used to describe a passage of long winded poetic description dropped into a scene.


"Eye-glazing" means "so boring/tiresome that it makes you sleepy". Remember that Tom & Jerry episode where Tom has to tape his eyelids to pretend he is standing guard? He was dead tired but wanted/had to stay awake (like you do, too, in order to finish the article) so he tried to force his eyes open. What happened then? His eyes glazed!

  • Weird, I've usually understood the word to mean something a bit more general like "not comprehending", often for reasons like not having the technical background to understand a speaker, or having been overloaded with details - but not necessarily bored per se. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 0:55
  • As opposed to "eye glazing" (un-hyphenated), i.e. spectacles. Commented Feb 24, 2018 at 16:31

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