Monday, February 6, 2017

The Origins Of Common Expressions, No. 5: Turn A Blind Eye

Turn A Blind Eye

Meaning: A willful refusal to acknowledge a particular reality.

Origin: The phrase “turn a blind eye” dates back to a legendary chapter in the career of the British naval hero Horatio Nelson. During 1801’s Battle of Copenhagen, Nelson’s ships were pitted against a large Danish-Norwegian fleet. When his more conservative superior officer flagged for him to withdraw, the one-eyed Nelson supposedly brought his telescope to his bad eye and blithely proclaimed, “I really do not see the signal.” He went on to score a decisive victory. Some historians have since dismissed Nelson’s famous quip as merely a battlefield myth, but the phrase “turn a blind eye” persists to this day.

Horatio Nelson

The Battle of Copenhagen (painting)

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