bat an eye

(not) bat an eye,
also, bat an eyelid, or bat an eyelash

This idiomatic expression is chiefly used in a negative context.

Meaning

  • to avoid expressing surprise, fear, or shock.
  • not to be surprised or worried when something surprising happens.
  • to appear unsurprising or unabashed by something.
  • to show a subtle emotional response, such as surprise, irritation, grief, excitement, and so on.
  • to hardly notice something.

Example in Sentences

  1. The man didn’t bat an eye when the explosions went off around him and bullets zipped past his head.
  2. The guy didn’t bat an eye when the pretty woman was trying to get his attention.
  3. When the father beat his child with the belt, the kid didn’t even bat an eye while he was being struck.
  4. When the judge declared him guilty of murder, the accused stood there without batting an eyelid.
  5. While she is meticulous about keeping her home clean, she doesn’t bat an eyelid about littering in public places.
  6. Some habits have become so ingrained in our culture that we hardly bat an eyelash at them.
  7. When there was still time to save Ukraine from Russia’s senseless and criminal act of war, they didn’t bat an eyelash.

Origin

The term “bat an eye” is derived from days long ago when falconry was a common practice in 15th century Europe. During the Middle Ages, hunters and soldiers would use birds of prey to aid in war or hunting. In falconry, the word “bat” meant that a falcon or hawk would flutter its wings. So, when a hunter told someone to bat an eye, they were telling them to blink or open and close their eyes very quickly. Over time, the original term was changed to mean something else.

When a person uses the idiom “bat an eye,” they’re simply saying that they or someone else is not responding to something negative. This use of the term came into effect sometime during the 18th century. It means that a person doesn’t react to anything negative, shocking, or wrong that another individual does to them or someone else.

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