Is there any idiom in English that describes someone's eyes' black pupils? I am especially interested in some positive idiom that would ascribe a characteristic of being deep in thinking, noble, kind, considerate, wise, etc. to such a person.

  • The only expression I can think of, to describe black pupils, are "like two black little beetles" – Thursagen Sep 18 '11 at 18:56
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    Aren't pupils black by definition? The color of iris can change, but pupils don't change color from person to person. – kiamlaluno Sep 18 '11 at 20:30
  • @kiamlaluno: True. But per my answer, big pupils are better, especially if you're in the mood! Unless they're artificially dilated so much the iris vanishes, which people find unnerving. And, usually, unattractive, which is why I found a webpage about how to digitally correct pictures where the underexposed iris has come out black (indistinguishable from the pupil). Seeing the iris is important to us, I think. – FumbleFingers Sep 18 '11 at 21:29
  • I think you might find English idioms to describe wise (etc.) eyes, but idioms for wise-looking pupils would be rare. Is there an equivalent expression in a different language that your are thinking of in particular? – Kit Z. Fox Sep 19 '11 at 1:45
  • @Kitḫ - I think the Russian equivalent of the word "pupil" is more common and less technical than its counterpart in English. There have been a lot of Russian songs written that were dedicated to girls having dilated iris. In almost all of them such girls are described as more "penetrating" and more "deep", so to say. A lot of lines from those songs are now used as idioms in Russian. – brilliant Sep 19 '11 at 1:57

When we say someone is wide-eyed, we usually mean they've got their eyelids fully open, rather than that their pupils are dilated. But usually the two go hand-in-hand anyway, because both are simply signals that someone is interested or aroused (or maybe frightened, but it certainly means they're paying attention).

I don't think there will be an idiom for black pupils with the connotations specified, simply because most people don't associate dilated pupils with wisdom or the other "noble" qualities. The most common "idiom" I know is bedroom eyes, defined here as a way of looking at someone that shows you are sexually attracted to them. To me, that means they've got dilated pupils, but it's not that common in the first place, and some people confuse it with sleepy eyes anyway.

It's a commonplace observation that The eyes are the window of the soul, but again I think this alludes to honesty, warmth, and closeness rather than wisdom, etc.

It's also not uncommon to say/write of eyes being limpid pools. Many people understand this to mean dilated pupils (i.e. - big and black) because they don't know that the relatively rare word limpid actually means "clear/transparent". Again, sensual, not philosophical connotations.

TL;DR: Remarkable black pupils are sexy/naughty, not wise/good!

  • I had always taken "bedroom eyes" to mean "half lidded" (beyond the obvious connotation of "seductive"). But if my searches are any indication, the jury seems to be out on exactly what it means from a physical standpoint. – Beska Sep 5 '12 at 12:20
  • @Beska: I'm sure some people find "sleepy, half-closed, half-lidded" eyes sexy, though I don't think I do particularly. But dilated pupils are universally seen as attractive, even by people who aren't consciously aware of what they're seeing, or why they find it attractive (it's because your pupils dilate when you're interested in whoever you're looking at). – FumbleFingers Sep 5 '12 at 12:55
  • Yep, I know. I'm not arguing what is sexy. I'm talking about the meaning of the phrase...not whether it makes sense. – Beska Sep 5 '12 at 13:12
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    @Beska: Well I'm not aware of "bedroom eyes" as a particularly common expression, but it doesn't seem very evocative to me anyway. I know sex often happens in bedrooms, but sleepy=sexy doesn't really do it for me. Personally, I'd go for the lady with "come-hither eyes". – FumbleFingers Sep 5 '12 at 13:23

I was under the impression that expression "the apple of my eye" has its etymology rooted in the pupil. To describe someone as such is to attach great importance to them.

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    Yes, but it doesn't describe how black pupils mean something. – simchona Sep 19 '11 at 1:41

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