If two people make eye contact and someone points at something (without speaking) with only their eyes, what is that called?

  • It's pointing. One can point with any part of the body, or extensions of it. Different cultures have different pointing habits -- some point with the lip, for instance, instead of the hand. Terry Pratchett poked fun at this ethnocentrism when he named a mountain in a foreign country "Mt. Yourfingeryoufool", because that was what people said when he asked what its name was. May 11 at 14:20
  • Also maybe indicate May 11 at 19:45

4 Answers 4


Usually we say that the person who is "pointing" with his/her eyes is signaling in that direction (with his/her eyes). For example, "He signaled with his eyes that there were guards standing in the corner".

Other phrases that you could use are, for example:
1. He indicated that ...
2. He gazed to the left to show that ...

Feel free to use any other synonyms that are similar to "signal" or "indicate".

  • Thanks. Just wanted to confirm. So basically, point/signal/indicate and synonyms and we use "with eyes". So there's no alternative singular term, which will take out "with eyes" from the equation, right?
    – ambuj g
    May 30, 2020 at 23:24

You might also dart a glance at someone or something, meaning that you would look at the subject for a very short time (Macmillan).

  • Or even just glance without the qualification. May 31, 2020 at 0:53
  • Glance, gaze, and stare are all actions of the eyes without using “eyes.”
    – Xanne
    May 31, 2020 at 1:40

Is eye-pointing a complete fallacy? I don't believe it exists as a verb only but don't see why it shouldn't :)

Actually, I've just done a search and found this text:

Eye-pointing is described as "The context-relevant, controlled and intentional use of gaze in order to direct one or more partner's visual attention to any item or object for a deliberate communicative purpose. — About the Eye Pointing Classification Scale - UCL

  • 1
    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    May 11 at 14:10
  • I just deleted my previous comment. Sorry, I was going through the review queue and confused your answer with a question because it starts with one. Welcome to ELU, anyhow. Cheers!
    – Conrado
    May 11 at 17:11

While you would need a verb (shot, threw, gave, etc.) to supplement this, the glance itself is called a pointed glance:

She shot a pointed glance diagonally toward the kitchen, loath to speak and wake Faith. ... He must have caught the meaning in her glance, because his expression lightened. — Bearly a Chance

Simply glancing at something can be ambiguous. For example, if you're "darting a glance at" the clock, that signals that you're impatient and fails to have any connotation that you're trying to tell someone else to look at the clock too.

Note that giving someone a pointed glance usually means that you're trying to communicate something to them with your expression (not something about them per se).

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.