turn a blind eye

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Admiral Horatio Nelson said this when wilfully disobeying a signal to withdraw during a naval engagement.

You know, Foley, I have only one eye - and I have a right to be blind sometimes... I really do not see the signal. 1809, Life of Nelson


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turn a blind eye (third-person singular simple present turns a blind eye, present participle turning a blind eye, simple past and past participle turned a blind eye)

  1. (idiomatic) To ignore or deliberately overlook, especially with respect to something unpleasant or improper, to look the other way. To knowingly refuse to acknowledge something which you know to be real.
    Synonyms: (obsolete) connive, shut one's eyes, look the other way, wink
    The mother turned a blind eye to her son’s mischief as she expected him not to repeat it.
    • 1880 October 11, James Jackson Jarves, "Future American Art," The New York Times, page 2:
      In this my countrymen, without having produced any really very great work, by the old standards, make a respectable show. [...] In saying this, however, we must turn a blind eye to a considerable number of statues of our distinguished citizens which even more lamentably exhibit the defects arising from ignorance of modeling and design.


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