65 Ways to Describe Sight and Eyes in Your Writing


Ever since William Shakespeare said:

“The Eyes are the window to your soul”

… people have been trying to decode ever glitter, wrinkle, squint, and gaze that passes from those orbs. When I read a description that catches my attention, I copy it down, using it later to remind me there’s more to a character’s eyes than ‘she looked’ or ‘his blue eyes’.

Here’s my list of 65 (and growing):

A note: These are for inspiration only. They can’t be copied because they’ve been pulled directly from an author’s copyrighted manuscript (intellectual property is immediately copyrighted when published).


  • Eyed me as though his bullshit meter was ticking in the red zone.
  • He blinked as his eyes adjusted.
  • an alertness in the eyes, behind the glasses that sat crookedly on the nose
  • Cold gaze fixed on the anxious young man
  • Cast a skeptical eye
  • Sure, we know that, said Herrera, taking off his glasses to inspect the lenses.

  • Gaffan saw Marley’s eyes open wide in surprise and recognition.
  • Eyes bleary from surveillance and the two-hour drive
  • Vision narrowed to a pinprick
  • Eyes clouded
  • eyes locked on like magnets
  • four pairs of eyes blinked in unison
  • studied her with a predator’s unwavering attention
  • blinked a couple of times
  • Squinted out into the audienceeyes
  • eyes narrowed to slits
  • Narrowed his eyes
  • eyes locked in a shared understanding
  • yellow rimmed eyes narrowing
  • peer sightlessly at a wall
  • eyes turned inward
  • shook her head and stared at the pool
  • Staring sightlessly into the darkness
  • Stared off into the crowd but didn’t seem to see anything
  • Stared into the distance
  • Fixed expression
  • Looked at a place somewhere over his shoulder
  • focused on an empty space in the air between them
  • eyes narrowed, she got a vertical wrinkle between her eyebrows. Her lips pursed slightly.
  • Their eyes met, but he broke it off
  • meaningful eye contact
  • studied Hood with her level gaze
  • risked a peek
  • she screwed her eyes shut
  • stared brazenly into her eyes
  • opened her eyes wide
  • dark eyes radiated a fierce, uncompromising intelligence
  • rubbed raw eyes
  • eyes felt scratchy and I was jittery with coffee and raw from sleeplessness.
  • His eyes flickered past me.
  • His eyes were never still and he never looked at me except in passing
  • Caught her peeking at Hawk sideways out of a narrow corner of her right eye.
  • Watching the bystanders from the edge of his vision
  • Looked him over with the respect men who have not served give those who have

Eyespug head portrait

  • Ferret-like eyes
  • Dark eyes smoldering
  • Lined from squinting into too many suns
  • Eyes were dark pools of fear
  • Flint-eyed
  • looked like hell—purple bags under her eyes,
  • eyes carried a mixture of shock and barely contained anger
  • bright eyes of an optimist
  • one eye clouded with a cataract
  • wounded eyes
  • tired eyes
  • his body felt heavy
  • eyes were dark, cupped by fleshy pouches
  • wire-rimmed glasses
  • Slate-blue eyes
  • Dark solemn eyes
  • Spark in his grey eyes
  • Steely-eyed
  • Huge blue eyes that gave her a startled look
  • black circles beneath her eyes had become bruises
  • Wide-spread aquamarine eyes
  • Beady-eyed
  • brown eyes wearing reading glasses
  • Piercing stare
  • Close set black eyes
  • Watery blue eyes
  • Memorable only for his bleak eyes
  • Nets of wrinkles at the corners of her eyes
  • Eyes flat as little pebbles
  • Steely eyed
  • long eyelashes
  • laughing eyes
  • predatory eyes
  • Eyes were red-rimmed from allergies
  • Under heavy lids; heavy-lidded
  • Sensitive brown eyes
  • Eyes sunk into his sockets
  • Competitive, fixed, dead-eyed, and querulous stare of people who weren’t getting far enough fast enough
  • I’ve-seen-it-all eyes
  • bedroom eyes, dark hair falling into them
  • Crows feet radiated from corners of eyes
  • the light fades from his eyes until they are dark and empty
  • eyes were brown in the middle and bloodshot everywhere else
  • stared through him
  • Looked left and right before starting
  • Pingponging his gaze between A and B
  • His glance, as conspiratorial as a wink
  •  eyes watched her the way a tiger watched a bunny
  • Shadow passed over his eyes
  • Flicker in his eyes
  • Said without looking at him
  • looked for a common theme, a thread of some sort
  • She frowned–couldn’t recall the incident
  • Heard little and cared less
  • Hovering over her shoulder
  • His eyes flattened
  • His face hardened in concentration
  • Thinking about my conversation with the old detective
  • shot a look over the top of his glasses
  • Squinted at the sun
  • Arched an eye brow
  • Looked at me with a strangled expression


  • Bushy eyebrows
  • eyebrows of white steel wool
  • a single bushy bar above the eyes

More descriptors for writing:

Lots of them

48 Collections to Infuse Your Writing

What is a ‘Hacker’

Copyright ©2022 – All rights reserved.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Savage Land, Winter 2024.


145 thoughts on “65 Ways to Describe Sight and Eyes in Your Writing

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  3. There is no copyright on most if not all of these. You may have copied them from a particular manuscript but the phrases themselves have been used thousands of times…”arched an eyebrow” , “Cast a skeptical eye” – c’mon…look at these phrases…they are all quite generic.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Jacqui, Can’t comment on just one post — I find something helpful in your posts on matter the subject. For now, the “eyes” have it. Thanks, also on commenting on my posts and for your regular blurbs. Mask up and enjoy the holidays.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Very useful to many budding writers. Thank you, Jacqui, for your comments about the posts on my blog I am back home from the hospital but still not very well.
    Nothing serious.

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. I will look at this list when I’m writing 🤔 my eyes would read. She looked through her red itchy eyes and decided he was a hunk. But what could she do about it at 61 and wrinkled skin. Go to Walmart for Gold Bond!

    Liked by 2 people

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  13. Hi Jacqui, Thank you for liking my poem, I love writing poetry…and playing around with words::my passion! Add people and I’m made up! I enjoyed your lists and ideas; thank you.. To think there are only 26 letters in the English language. Isn’t it amazing what us writers do with them. Magic! Best wishes. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I’m looking for some advice. I want to describe the look someone gives another person when the former is deliberately feigning interest in a way meant to convey mockery and contempt. I’ll try to give a brief example.

    Person A says something person B finds ridiculous or uninteresting.

    Person B, being a jerk, makes a sarcastic remark to the effect of “wow, how fascinating!” while giving person A a look that matches her attitude.

    It’s all about body language…and the fact that it’s nearly 6 am and I am struggling to be descriptive! Thanks for your help.

    Liked by 3 people

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  18. Awesome write-up. I wonder if a person used some of these phrases in their own book or novel would it be considered plagiarism? I posted earlier but I wrote the wrong address.

    Liked by 2 people

      • thanks for your response. But I think it depends. As I look over some of the words in sight, I already have them in my book and chances are some of the phrases are in other books. Phrases like “Eyes turned inwards”, “Looked him over”, “Blinks several times”, “Squinted into the crowd.”
        In my novel I used, “His eyes darted back and forth.” coming to find out that the phrase is used in over 15 other novels that I found and I am sure there are more. I’m sure there are probably other phrases that I use in some of these books as well.
        Can I call it plagiarism if I see phrases I used in my book?

        I guess it depends on the complexity of the sentence.

        Liked by 1 person

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  27. My old eyes can’t ‘see’ as much as your young ones and writing brain can Jacqui. You’ve given me so much great tips over the last couple of years, I wish I knew long time ago. These are the ones came at a critical juncture of my [nonsensical?] book. Thanks for your help Jaqui. Arun from over the pond.

    Liked by 1 person

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