"... sore eyed negroes ..."

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 3 05:34:43 UTC 2010

= "coloreds with conjunctivitis"?

WTF *are* "sore eyes," anyway? Till a couple of minutes ago, when I
tried to google "sore eyes," I had been under the impression that
"sight for sore eyes" meant "sight that causes pain in one's eyes,"
used ironically or jokingly as a reverse compliment. Now, I've
discovered that it means, "sight so pleasant that even *sore* eyes
enjoy seeing it."

But that still leaves unanswered the question, WTF are "sore eyes"?
Is there a literal meaning? I experience pain inside *only* my right
eyeball as the "shadow" of, or prelude to, a cluster headache.
Conjunctivitis makes my eyes very itchy, but not sore.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
–Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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