The expression apple of my eye is a common saying that means a person is very fond of someone or something. In other words, they cherish that thing; it means a lot to them.
Example: I care about each of my cats, but there is one in particular that is the apple of my eye. He gets special attention because of his health problems. Yes, despite being sick, Simon is the one I treasure most.
Synonyms / Similar Phrases:
2. Hold dear
3. The light of one’s life
The Origin of “Apple Of My Eye”
Where does this idiom come from? Today, the meaning apple of my eye has to do with cherishing something, or put another way, holding it dear. However, it looks like long ago, this everyday expression actually referred to a part of the body. Which part, you ask? Apparently, the apple in this phrase referred to the pupil of the eye.
Okay, let’s briefly go over the age of this idiom. Its 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, I think it is worth noting that I could not find the expression within the translation I looked at. What I did find was the phrase ‘pupil of the eye,’ which in the original work, might have appeared as ‘apple of my eye.’ But I have no way of knowing that for sure.
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, the Shakespearean play from the 16th century would make it at least 425 years old. Either way you slice it, this expression has been around for a long time. While plenty of phrases enter and exit a language in that amount of time, this one has stuck around and remains in common use.
Here are a couple sentences for this idiom:
- My son is the apple of my eye; I love him a lot.
- Whenever I’m at Brian’s house, from the way he treats his wife I can tell that she is 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 about its meaning and origin.