Apple of my eye is a phrase that means a person treasures one thing over another; being 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. However, one in particular is named Simon and he’s the apple of my eye. Yes, even with his health problems, he’s still my favorite of the bunch.
Synonyms / Related Phrases: cherish, treasure, hold dear, the light of one’s life
The Origin of ‘Apple Of My Eye’
The expression “apple of my eye” did not always have its modern day meaning of “to cherish something.” Indeed, this phrase was first used long ago as an anatomical term. Yes, the “apple” referred to the pupil of the eye. I guess I can see the similarities between them—they’re both round, for example.
So, how old is this idiom? This one is quite long in the tooth. The earliest known appearance of this phrase is said to be in a work by King Alfred of Wessex called Gregory’s Pastoral Care, around 880 C.E. Of note, I tried looking up this book to confirm, but all I could find was a translation of it. The idiom did not appear anywhere in the translation, but the words “pupil of the eye” did. Thus, it’s possible that in the original work, those words first appeared as “apple of the eye” and then later the translator changed the word “apple” to “pupil.”
Anyways, besides that, this saying shows up 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.
All that being said, if this idiom does go back to the 9th century as it is believed, then that means its origin is over 1100 years old.
Examples Of ‘Apple Of My Eye’
- I am very fond of Aika, she’s the apple of my eye.
- Whenever I’m at Brian’s house, I can tell that he holds his wife dear. Yes, 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 pictures she has with her husband because they remind her of the good times.
Speaking of eye related sayings, have you heard of this one before? If not, now’s your chance to learn all about its meaning and origin.