Please consider the excerpt below.

I felt awkward discussing such issues with Aarti’s dad, so I kept quiet.
“I know how the education business works, Tiwari talks intellectual, but he wants his share. I hope you guys won’t get me involved with that.”
“Not at all, sir,” I said. “Even I don’t deal with that stuff. I only look after the college.”
“So all such work is done by Shukla-ji’s men?” Aarti’s father asked.
“Yes,” I said, as I ____ at the floor.

I need little help how the words stare and gaze changes the meaning of sentence in the given context. Please find below the dictionary (ODO) meanings of those words:

Stare = look fixedly or vacantly at someone or something with one’s eyes wide open.
Gaze = look steadily and intently, especially in admiration, surprise, or thought.

  • I've given an answer, but this still feels like writing advice. There is a fine line between word-choice and ghost-writing, and I'm not sure which side these requests fall. Perhaps it depends on their frequency. (And as a free gift I've done some proof-reading, which is definitely off-topic. Notice how the quotation marks are paired, and the added possessive apostrophes.) – Andrew Leach Dec 23 '12 at 10:19
  • @AndrewLeach: Thank you so much. I am under the impression that the help related to differences in meanings of the words can get from ELU. Am I missing something here? – Hanu Dec 23 '12 at 14:48

I suppose "I" (is that still Gopal?) is feeling awkward or embarrassed and looking downwards to avoid meeting Aarti's father's eye.

In such an instance, the idiom is to stare at the floor. From the dictionary definitions you give, Gopal is looking fixedly at the floor, probably at a particular point. A gaze is less focused; Gopal would gaze at Aarthi across a crowded room — it's the admiration or thought part of the definition which makes the difference.


The Cambridge online dictionary provides the following meanings of the two words:

Stare - to look for a long time with the eyes wide open, especially when surprised, frightened or thinking

Gaze - to look at something or someone for a long time, especially in surprise, admiration or because you are thinking about something else

So, according to these definitions, staring would be more appropriate, because the guy isn't thinking about anything else, rather he is not comfortable looking Aarti's dad in the eye.


I think "gaze" would be more appropriate in this context. Stare has a feeling of "focus" and I guess in this context I would like to focus on what Aartis dad is saying. So when I am looking at the floor here, it has a sense that although I am looking at the floor but I am not focusing or giving my full attention to it, just gazing at it absentmindedly.

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