evil eye

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Calque of Latin oculus (an eye) + malus (bad, evil, wicked, injurious).


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evil eye (plural evil eyes)

  1. A wicked look that is believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck due to envy or dislike.
    • 1890, “Fascinum”, in William Smith, editor, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities:
      Various amulets were used to avert the influence of the evil eye. The most common of these appears to have been the phallus, called by the Romans fascinum, which was hung round the necks of children.
    • 1936, Rollo Ahmed, The Black Art, London: Long, page 26:
      A common dread was the evil eye, and the chief charm against it was in the form of a knotted cord woven by a "wise woman".
    • 1964, Leonard Feather (lyrics and music), “Evil Gal Blues”, performed by Aretha Franklin:
      If you tell me, "Good morning" / I'm gonna tell you, "That's a lie" / If you say I'm old, baby / I'm gonna give you the evil eye
  2. A curse.
    Synonyms: hex, (archaic) jettatura, jinx, whammy

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