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1. An utterly shocking or startling thing, situation, or revelation. Sometimes hyphenated. The former champion's crushing defeat in the first round of the tournament was an eye opener to everyone who had expected her to make it to the finals without resistance. Learning about John's opium addiction was a real eye-opener for me.
2. A strong alcoholic beverage consumed early in the morning or first thing upon waking. Sometimes hyphenated. Primarily heard in US, Canada, South Africa. After going on quite a bender over the weekend, an eye opener was the only thing that could get me moving on Monday morning.
eye opener, an
1. A startling or shocking revelation, as in The first sentence of his speech was a real eye opener. This expression alludes to widening one's eyes with surprise. [Mid-1800s]
2. A strong alcoholic drink taken early in the morning, as in After a late night and little sleep, he generally needed an eye opener to jolt him awake . This usage alludes to the alleged wakening effect of such a beverage. [Early 1800s]
See also: eye
1. n. a real surprise. This day has been an eye-opener for me.
2. n. a wake-up drink of liquor; a strong drink any time. He knocked back a quick eye-opener and finished dressing.