The idiom apple of my eye means that a person treasures one thing over another. In other words, they are very fond of someone or something.
Example: I have several cats. They all have their own unique personalities and I care about each of them. Still, there is one in particular that is the apple of my eye, his name is Simon. Despite his health problems, he’s my favorite of the group.
The Origin of “Apple Of My Eye”
Let’s talk about this phrase for a moment. Today, the meaning of the expression ‘apple of my eye’ has to do with cherishing something. However, from the multiple sources I have seen on this topic, they all agree that a long time ago, this phrase actually referred to a part of the body. Which part, you ask? Apparently, the apple in this phrase referred to the pupil the eye.
So how old is this idiom? It’s earliest known appearance is said to be from a work by King Alfred of Wessex called Gregory’s Pastoral Care, around 880 C.E. However, when I looked at a translation of it I could not find the expression inside. I did find the phrase “pupil of the eye” in the translation, which might have appeared as “apple of my eye” in the original work.
Anyways, besides that, this saying appears in the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, written in 1595/96:
Flower of this purple dye,
Hit with Cupid’s archery,
Sink in apple of his eye.
In summary, if this phrase does go back to the 9th century, that means its origin is over 1100 years old. Otherwise, from the Shakespearean play in the 16th century, it would be at least 425 years old.
Here are a couple sentences for this idiom:
- Emily is the apple of my eye, yes, I am very fond of her.
- Whenever I’m at Brian’s house, I can tell that he holds his wife dear. She’s the apple of his eye.
- Those kids are the light of his life, I’m not sure what he would do without them.
- She cherishes the time she spends with her family.
Want to read about another eye related saying? If so, check out this common phrase and learn all about its meaning and origin.