evil eye

evil-eyed, adj.
1. a look thought capable of inflicting injury or bad luck on the person at whom it is directed.
2. the power, superstitiously attributed to certain persons, of inflicting injury or bad luck by such a look.
[bef. 1000; ME, OE]

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Superstition holding that a glance can cause injury or death to those on whom it falls.

The belief was found in ancient Greece and Rome as well as in folk cultures around the world, and it has persisted into modern times. Children and animals are believed to be particularly vulnerable. The evil eye is often thought to stem from envy and malice toward prosperity and beauty, and thus in many cultures unguarded praise of one's possessions or children is thought to invite misfortune. Safeguards include amulets, charms, and sacred texts; in Asia children may have their faces blackened for protection.

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occult
      glance believed to have the ability to cause injury or death to those on whom it falls; pregnant women, children, and animals are thought to be particularly susceptible. Belief in the evil eye is ancient and ubiquitous; it occurred in ancient Greece (ancient Greek civilization) and Rome (ancient Rome), in Jewish (Judaism), Islamic (Islām), Buddhist (Buddhism), and Hindu (Hinduism) traditions, and in indigenous, peasant, and other folk societies (folk society), and it has persisted throughout the world into modern times. Those most often accused of casting the evil eye include strangers, malformed individuals, childless women, and old women.

      The power of the evil eye is sometimes held to be involuntary; a Slavic folktale, for example, relates the story of a father afflicted with the evil eye who blinded himself in order to avoid injuring his own children. More frequently, however, malice toward and envy of prosperity and beauty are thought to be the cause. Thus, in medieval Europe it was considered unlucky to be praised or to have one's children or possessions praised, so some qualifying phrase such as “as God will” or “God bless it” was commonly used.

      Measures taken to ward off the evil eye vary widely between cultures. For example, some authorities suggest that the purpose of ritual cross-dressing—a practice that has been noted in the marriage ceremonies of parts of India—is to avert the evil eye. Asian children sometimes have their faces blackened, especially near the eyes, for protection. Among some Asian and African peoples the evil eye is particularly dreaded while eating and drinking, because soul loss is thought to be more prevalent when the mouth is open; in these cultures, the ingestion of substances is either a solitary activity or takes place only with the immediate family and behind locked doors. Other means of protection, common to many traditions, include the consumption of protective foodstuffs or decoctions; the wearing of sacred texts, amulets, charms, or talismans (which may also be hung upon animals for their protection); the use of certain hand gestures; and the display of ritual drawings or objects.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • EVIL EYE — (Heb. עַיִן הָרָע, ayin ha ra; lit., the eye of the evil ; Aram. עֵינָא בִּישָׁא, eina bisha), a widespread belief that some persons may produce malevolent effects on others by looking at them, based on the supposed power of some eyes to bewitch… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Evil eye — Evil E*vil ([=e] v l) a. [OE. evel, evil, ifel, uvel, AS. yfel; akin to OFries, evel, D. euvel, OS. & OHG. ubil, G. [ u]bel, Goth. ubils, and perh. to E. over.] 1. Having qualities tending to injury and mischief; having a nature or properties… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Evil eye — E vil eye See {Evil eye} under {Evil}, a. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • evil eye — n. 1. a look believed by some to be able to harm or bewitch the one stared at 2. the power to cast such a look: With the …   English World dictionary

  • Evil eye — Nazars, charms used to ward off the evil eye. The evil eye is a look that is believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike. The term also refers to the power… …   Wikipedia

  • evil eye —    A demonic power of causing illness, misfortune, calamity, and death through the eyes. Evil eye beliefs are universal and date to ancient times. The oldest recorded reference to the evil eye appears in the cuneiform texts of the Sumerians,… …   Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology

  • evil eye — noun a look that is believed to have the power of inflicting harm • Hypernyms: ↑look, ↑looking, ↑looking at * * * noun : the glance of a person that is believed to be capable of inflicting injury many people are reputed to … cause harm by staring …   Useful english dictionary

  • evil eye — 1) N SING: the N Some people believe that the evil eye is a magical power to cast a spell on someone or something by looking at them, so that bad things happen to them. 2) N SING: usu the N If someone gives you the evil eye, they look at you in… …   English dictionary

  • evil eye —    The belief that certain people can inflict disease or death simply by a glance was accepted by the educated throughout medieval and Elizabethan times, as it had been by Pliny and other classical authorities. Scientists held that vision was an… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • evil eye — Synonyms and related words: Jonah, anathema, bad blood, bad influence, bad temper, bad will, ban, bedroom eyes, blasphemy, blighting glance, cantrip, charm, come hither look, commination, curse, damnation, denunciation, enchantment, evil… …   Moby Thesaurus

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