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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English blere, related to Low German bleeroged (bleareyed), Middle High German blerre (double vision), German Blerre (double vision). Perhaps also related to blur.


blear (comparative more blear, superlative most blear)

  1. (of eyes or vision) Dim, unclear from water or rheum.
    • 1711, John Dryden, translation of Juvenal, Satire 6,[1]
      A promontory wen, with griesly grace,
      Stood high, upon the handle of his face:
      His blear eyes ran in gutters to his chin:
      His beard was stubble, and his cheeks were thin.
    • 1981, John Gardner, Freddy's Book, Abacus 1982, p. 74:
      The Devil, now disguised as a half-wit peasant to Lars-Goren’s left, stood grinning, his blear eyes glittering.
  2. Causing or caused by dimness of sight.
    • 1634, John Milton, Comus, lines 153-156,[2]
      Thus I hurl
      My dazzling spells into the spongy air,
      Of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion,
      And give it false presentments []
See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English bleren, from Old English *blerian.


blear (third-person singular simple present blears, present participle blearing, simple past and past participle bleared)

  1. (intransitive) To be blear; to have blear eyes; to look or gaze with blear eyes.
    • 18th c., attributed to Jonathan Swift, “The Story of Orpheus, Burlesqued,” in Walter Scott (ed.), The Works of Jonathan Swift, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 2nd edition, 1883, Volume 10, p. 403,[3]
      Orpheus, a one-eyed blearing Thracian,
      The crowder of that barb’rous nation,
      Was ballad-singer by vocation;
    • 1886, John Grosvenor Wilson, “A Rainy Day in Town” in Lyrics of Life, New York: Caxton Book Concern, p. 146,[4]
      The street-lamps blearing thro’ the rainy rout,
      Each like a winking, sickly evil-eye.
    • 1917, Madge Morris, The “Red Wind Blows” in The Lure of the Desert Land and Other Poems, San Francisco: Har Wagner, p. 83,[5]
      Let loose thy snow-winged dove, to rise
      And fly across the seething blood-mad world.
      To flutter over fields where that dread Silence is!
      To light on upturned faces blearing at the skies
      And curiously peck at dead men’s eyes.
  2. (transitive, of the eyes or eyesight) To make blurred or dim.
    • 1584, Anonymous, Sonnet, in Clement Robinson et al., A Handefull of Pleasnt Delites, London: Richard Ihones, reprinted from the original edition for the Spenser Society, 1871, p. 52,[6]
      I smile to see how you devise,
      New masking nets my eies to bleare:
      your self you cannot so disguise:
      But as you are, you must appeare.
    • c. 1593, William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, Act V, Scene 1,[7]
      Here’s Lucentio,
      Right son to the right Vincentio,
      That have by marriage made thy daughter mine,
      While counterfeit supposes blear’d thine eyne.
    • 1644, John Milton, Areopagitica,[8]
      [] if it come to prohibiting, there is not aught more likely to be prohibited than truth itself; whose first appearance to our eyes, bleared and dimmed with prejudice and custom, is more unsightly and unplausible than many errors, even as the person is of many a great man slight and contemptuous to see to.
    • 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, Part I, Chapter 1,[9]
      [] I remember observing the contrast the neat, bright doctor, with his powder as white as snow and his bright, black eyes and pleasant manners, made with the coltish country folk, and above all, with that filthy, heavy, bleared scarecrow of a pirate of ours, sitting, far gone in rum, with his arms on the table.
    • 1887, Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet, Part I, Chapter 3,[10]
      The latter looked out with three tiers of vacant melancholy windows, which were blank and dreary, save that here and there a “To Let” card had developed like a cataract upon the bleared panes.
    • 1928, Frank Parker Day, Rockbound, Chapter 1,[11]
      He was useful to the man, for his sharp young eyes could pick up net or trawl buoys, white with a stripe of scarlet, far quicker than the rum-bleared eyes of his stepfather.
  3. (transitive, of an image) To blur, make blurry.
    • 1865, Alfred Billings Street, “My Canoe” in Forest Pictures in the Adirondacks, New York: Gregory, p. 33,[12]
      When winter blears bleakly the forest,
      And the water binds gray to its blue,
      Safe and sound in her covert I leave her,
      Till spring calls again my canoe.
    • 1888, David Atwood Wasson, “Babes of God” Part II in Poems, Boston: Lee & Shepard, p. 36,[13]
      Now, one among the foremost, looking up
      By chance, with horror saw, in farthest sky
      Fronting their course, a troublous film of cloud,—
      A strange, dark, troublous film of cloud,—
      Blearing the beauty of the crystal wall.
    • 1946, Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan, London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, “Here and There,”
      He stared at but did not see the bleared reflection of the flanking cherubs a hundred feet above the steel-grey veneer of water.



Alternative forms[edit]

  • (Rumantsch Grischun, Surmiran, Vallader) bler
  • (Sursilvan, Sutsilvan) bia
  • (Puter) bger


From Latin valde.


blear m (feminine singular bleara, masculine plural blears, feminine plural blearas)

  1. (Sutsilvan) much, a lot of