Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

What Does ‘Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder’ Mean?

When someone says “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” it means that people may have differing opinions on what is beautiful. Indeed, what is pleasing to the eyes for one person might be ordinary or ugly to another; it’s subjective.

Example: The color of Blake’s house has faded; it looks washed out and dull. To rectify this, he wanted to repaint his entire house yellow. After getting the necessary supplies, he worked on this project all week until it was finished. He was pleased with how it turned out.

Later, his brother came over to visit. What would he think of the house’s new color? The brother critiqued the color choice, saying: “This shade of yellow is not appealing, I think it’s too bright.” However, Blake disagreed and told him: “Well, I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, because I think it looks stunning!”

Synonyms / Related Phrases:
1. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder (alternate form)
2. One’s man trash is another man’s treasure
The saying, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.
Macro image of the human eye

The Origin Of – Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Some things are just nice to look at. For example, most people would probably agree that waterfalls are a beautiful sight to behold. Seeing enormous amounts of water falling off the side of a cliff and splashing into the depths below is incredible watch. There are also sunsets, where warm colors fill the sky. Or how about a garden full of different flowers and plants, or a star-filled sky on a dark night? Yes, all of these things are a pleasure to see.

But when it comes to other things, like the kind of clothes we wear, the music we listen to, the art that we view and so on, the beauty of such things can differ from person to person, which is idea this proverb is conveying.

Anyways, let’s talk about the age of this particular phrase. How old is this phrase in its current form? Some sources, such as Wikipedia, say this expression originated in a novel by Margaret Wolfe Hamilton called Molly Bawn, 1878. However, I was able to find older citations of it. For example, this saying appears 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 oldest citation I could find of the phrase in its current form 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.'”

Thus, this phrase (in its current form) is at least 150 years old, and considering it’s called an “old saying” in the quote above, it must be even older.


Examples

  • George wanted to throw away an old piece of furniture because he thought it looked ugly. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as his mother liked the design of the furniture, so she kept it for herself.