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1. The power believed by the superstitious to inflict harm, injury, or misfortune by a look or stare. They say that the old lady living in the house at the end of the road has an evil eye—if she catches you in her gaze, you'll be cursed with bad luck for a year!
2. A hateful, malicious, or villainous look or stare that suggests or is thought to be capable of inflicting harm or misfortune. I saw him giving me the evil eye, so I turned around and walked the other way.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
The power to cause injury or misfortune, as in The tomatoes died shortly after planting-I must have an evil eye. The source of this expression is the ancient superstitious belief that some individuals could inflict harm on others simply by looking at them. Today the term is generally used figuratively or ironically, as above, and also in the form give someone the evil eye, which means "glare malevolently at someone." For example, Helen gave his cat the evil eye, hoping it would stay out of her garden. [Late 1300s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
the evil eye
The evil eye is a harmful magical force that is given by looking at someone. Some people said an evil eye had been put on her.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
the evil eyea gaze or stare superstitiously believed to cause harm.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
evil eye, the
The power of being able to inflict harm at a glance. This age-old superstition—the Roman poet Virgil speaks of it bewitching lambs—is in modern times expressed figuratively and sometimes ironically. Edward Bulwer-Lytton used it in The Last Days of Pompeii (1834): “‘He certainly possesses the gift of the evil eye,’ said Clodius of Arbaces the Egyptian.” As for a modern jocular example: “Where house plants are concerned, I seem to have the evil eye.”
See also: evil
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer