Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder


The phrase beauty is in the eye of the beholder means that people can have differing opinions on what is beautiful. So what is pleasing to the eyes of one person might be ordinary or ugly to another. In other words, beauty can be subjective.

Example: The color of Blake’s house had faded, so he painted everything yellow to give his home a bright new look. He was pleased with how it turned out.

Later, his brother came over to visit. After seeing the freshly painted house, his brother critiqued, “This shade of yellow is too light; I don’t like it.” However, Blake disagreed and said, “I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, because I think it looks great!”

Synonyms: 1) beauty lies in the eye of the beholder (alternate form), 2) one man’s trash is another man’s treasure

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, a human eye.
Macro image of the human eye

The Origin Of ‘Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder’

As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Indeed, this phrase points out that beauty can be a subjective thing. For example, when it comes to things like the clothes we wear, the way we decorate our home, or even the kind of music we listen to, these can all differ from person to person based on their own personal tastes.

However, there are some things that pretty much all people would find beautiful. For example, most people would agree that a waterfall is nice to look at. Seeing all of that water pouring off the side of a cliff and splashing into the depths below, now that is a sight to see! There are also sunsets, where warm colors fill the sky. What else is pleasing to the eye? How about a garden full of flowers, or a star-filled sky on a dark night? Yes, in the eye of the beholder, all of these things are beautiful!

Anyway, let’s talk about the origin of this phrase. How old is the current form of this expression? According to Wikipedia, it originated in a novel by Margaret Wolfe Hamilton called Molly Bawn, from 1878. However, I was able to find older citations of it. For example, the phrase makes an appearance in The Garderners’ Monthly and Horticulturist, Volume 16, 1874:

“It is an old axiom, and well said, that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

The earliest I could find this expression (in its current form) in print is in a book called The Christian Miscellany, And Family Visiter, published by John Mason in 1863:

“If there be any truth in the old saying, which, however, is generally quoted in a sense very wide of this mark, that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.'”

So this saying is at least 150 years old, and considering it is called an “old saying” in the quote, it must obviously be even older.

Tip: There are hundreds of expressions to explore on Know Your Phrase. It’s true, check out our list of phrases starting with “B” for more sayings like this. It’s beautiful!

Examples of ‘Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder’

Example Sentences:

  • George was about to throw away an old piece of furniture since he thought it looked ugly. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder because his mother liked the way it looked, so she kept it.
  • There’s some odd looking art hanging up in my brother’s house. I think it looks tacky, but he likes it, so I guess beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

See Also: Apple Of My Eye

Yet another eye related expression that you can read about. Learn details about this expressions, including what it means.