Eyes can be described through metaphor to help create vivid ‘images’ in the mind of the reader.
Some of my favorite metaphors for eyes are:
- Her eyes told a story.
- Her eyes are a window to the soul.
- He had the eye of the tiger.
If you want to show your reader that someone has fear, is in love, or is focused, you can use these metaphors and the rest – listed below – to create better stories.
The Best Metaphors describing Eyes
1. The Window to the Soul
This common metaphor is used to express an idea that you can see someone’s true intentions when you look into their eyes.
The metaphor calls eyes a ‘window’ that you can look through to get a glimpse of something you can’t see in any other way. The thing being looked at – the soul – is supposedly our ‘core’ that show’s what’s really deep down in our herts.
2. Her Eyes Screamed in Silence
Sometimes you can tell a person’s emotions just by looking at their eyes.
Imagine a horror film where a protagonist senses a home invader creeping into their house. Maybe she’s hiding in the closet. And the camera has an extreme close-up of her wide-open eyes.
This character wouldn’t need to scream – and in fact they’re probably holding it in so they’re not found by the intruder – but we can see through the look of fear in their eyes that they’re screaming internally.
3. Deep Brown Eyes
The idea that eyes are ‘deep’ refers to the allure of someone’s eyes. Some people have eyes that are so beautiful that they just attract you to them. People who are in love and gaze longingly into the eyes of their lover and might remark about how “deep your eyes are”, meaning how beautiful they are (see also: Love Metaphors).
4. Her Eyes were an Ocean of Wonder
The idea that eyes might be an ocean gives a sense that there are endless things to see when you gaze into someone’s eyes. It’s very similar to the idea that eyes can be ‘deep’ because it highlights that there’s a lot going on when you gaze into someone’s eyes.
5. Her Eyes told a Story
Of course, eyes cannot speak. But perhaps when we look into someone’s eyes we can see emotions. In reality, it’s often the way the muscles under the eyes are tensed that gives this sense of emotion.
Sad eyes, serious eyes and happy eyes are all displayed through the interplay of the muscles in the cheeks, mouth and forehead, which frame the eyes in recognizable ways. Another way to see the ‘story’ of the eyes is if they’re focused: eyes that will not lose focus on something appear stern or even angry.
6. Eyes the Size of Dinner Plates
This one isn’t technically a metaphor. Even though it’s an analogy, it’s classed as a simile because the phrase “the size of” creates likeness rather than substitution. No human has eyes the size of dinner plates, but the saying emphasizes the idea that someone has raised their eyebrows and is in a state of surprise or shock.
7. Eyes that Sparkle
The sparkle in someone’s eye is demonstrable through a combination of alertness and happiness. Of course, eyes do not literally sparkle. But someone with sparkling eyes is often depicted as a beautiful woman who is the belle of the ball. People gravitate to her eyes. We can substitute ‘dancing’ and ‘dazzling’ instead of ‘sparkling’ for this metaphor.
8. Sunken Eyes
We say someone who looks sad has sunken eyes. This is often demonstrated through lack of tension of the muscles under the eyes, leading to a perception that the eyes have dropped or ‘sunk’ from their natural resting position. This term might be used to describe a beggar on the street or a refugee at the end of a long and arduous journey.
Metaphors with Eyes in Them
The following metaphors are a bit different because they don’t specifically describe someone’s eyes. But they do nonetheless use eyes to describe something going on, or a person’s character, in a figurative way.
9. Eye of the Tiger
A person with the eye of the tiger is someone who is fierce. Imagine looking into the eyes of a tiger when you’re battling with it. It will look very fierce and focused, and should instill fear in its opponent. This metaphor is most well known thanks to the song “eye of the tiger” from the film Rocky III, where it’s the boxer who has the eye of the tiger.
10. I have Eagle Eyes
Someone with eagle eyes is a person who can see everything. They might be a person who doesn’t miss much going on around them and is well aware of their surrounds. This might be used for a prison guard to keeps close watch over their prisoners to ensure they don’t escape. A very good prison guard might be said to have eagle eyes.
11. I have Eyes in the Back of my Head
Someone said to have eyes in the back of their head is a person who can see everything, even if they’re not looking. This is a commonly used metaphor to explain teachers’ ability to see the mischief their students are getting up to. A teacher might be writing on the board at the front of the class and, without turning around, say “I have eyes in the back of my head. I know what you’re doing, Thomas!”
12. Looked Death in the Eyes
A person who looked death in the eyes is someone who came close to death and recovered. If someone’s heart stopped and they were resuscitated, their doctor might come up to them and say “Wow, son, you looked death in the eyes. You’re lucky to be here!”
This is by no means an exhaustive list of metaphors for eyes. But it does provide some of the most common figurative ways to describe eyes. The above metaphors can be adapted to become similes, analogies and idioms that each have their role in creating a vivid story.
Hopefully this list of eye metaphors has gotten your creativity flowing. Even if none of these metaphors are the perfect fit for you, you can come up with your own that fits your story.
I’m a Scorpio, I love the outdoors, and I’ve written articles in some major online publications like Medium and The Weekly. My favorite metaphor? Anything that’s got to do with baseball. I’m fascinated by the fact our language has baseball weaved all through it. Read more about me here.