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What is the meaning and origin of the idiom "the apple of one's eye"?

(N. V. S. Kaushik, Hyderabad)

When you say something is the apple of your eye what you are implying is that the object is a prized possession; it's an object that you look after with a great deal of devotion. Similarly, when the apple of your eye happens to be a person, then he/she is a person whom you like very much. Here are a few examples.

* Anita is the apple of her father's eye.*Don't say anything nasty about that painting. It's the apple of Seema's eye.

The idiom has been around for several hundred years. The "apple" here doesn't refer to the fruit, but the "pupil" in one's eye. People felt that the shape of the pupil was similar to that of an apple's. In fact, for quite some time the word "aeppel" was used to refer to both the eye and the fruit. The pupil is a priceless possession because without it we will be deprived of our vision; we will not be able to see. And vision is something that all human beings value. That's why the expression, "the apple of one's eye" came to mean something that is greatly valued or treasured. By the way, remember that it's "the apple of one's eye" and not "eyes".

S. Upendran

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