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Last updated at 15:10 BST, Tuesday, 08 May 2012

To catch your eye / eye-catching


Helen is frightened when Chris mentions the expression 'catch other people's eyes'. What does it actually mean? She also learns some other idioms that are related to eye. Find out more in The English We Speak.

mask eyes, bbc

What does 'eye-catching' mean?

The script for this programme

Helen: Hi Chris, I see you've got an interesting new jumper.

Chris: Ah, yes. I went to the market this weekend. I wasn't looking for a new jumper but I walked past a vintage clothing stall and this just caught my eye.

Helen: Ow, did it hurt?

Chris: No, no. It's just a way of saying it attracted my attention and it made me want to take a closer look. I eventually bought it for only £10. What do you think?

Helen: Well, it's OK. But I don't really like the yellow colour with orange sleeves. It's a bit bright.

Chris: What do you mean?

Helen: I have to be honest Chris: bright colours don't really suit you.

Chris: Oh. Well, it might not be to your taste, but I'm sure other people will like it.

Helen: Jen, what do you think of Chris's outfit today?

Jen: Wow, that's an eye-catching jumper! Don't tell me you actually paid for that?

Chris: Wh-

Helen: An eye-catching jumper. So when it catches your eye, you notice it.

Jen: That's right, Helen. But eye-catching doesn't necessarily mean it's bright – like Chris's interesting jumper. It can be something that you quickly see because it surprises or interests you.

Chris: You can also catch other people's eyes.

Helen: Urgh, I hope no-one throws their eyes at me!

Chris: It's a gesture that can be romantic - to catch someone's eye across a crowded room. Let's listen to some examples:

  • Jeff was about to give up and leave when he caught Sophie's eye at the bar.
  • David was impatient to leave the restaurant and raised his hand to catch the waiter's eye.

Chris: So you can grab someone else's attention by looking at them with your eyes.

Helen: Hmm. If I see someone I like, should I be polite and ask them if I can catch their eye?

Chris: No, it's just something you do when you look at someone. You don't need to ask.

Helen: I'm looking around the room. I'm looking around the room. And now I'm looking at you, Chris. I'm catching your eye.

Chris: That's right.

Helen: I'm catching your eye!

Chris: Well, it is only temporary. If you look for any longer it can become a stare.

Helen: I've caught your eye!

Chris: Yes, yes you have… OK, you are definitely staring at me now.


To take away:

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