Turn a Blind Eye

Meanings of “Turn a Blind Eye”

The phrase “turn a blind eye” means intentionally refuse to acknowledge something that you know can be real or ignore deliberately. The phrase is also used to ask people such as police to ignore someone’s fault or crime if it happened as an accident and parents are asked to ‘turn a blind eye’ if a child has committed an innocent mistake.

Origin of “Turn a Blind Eye”

The phrase “turn a blind eye” is stated to have first used in a naval incident involving Admiral Nelson. It happened in 1698 but later it was used in More Letters from Martha Wilmot which were written between 1819-1829. Later, John Morris is stated to have used it in print form in his book, A Discourse of Walking by Faith, published in 1698. Since then, the phrase was used by various authors, poets and singers though having almost the same meanings.

Examples from Literature

Example #1

Turn a Blind Eye by The Call

To the desperate young, turn a blind eye
To the old and lonely, turn a blind eye
To our inhumanity
To our death-dealing vanity
To the methods of persuasion, turn a blind eye
To the masters of evasion, turn
To the science of control, turn a blind eye
To a world in chains, turn
To the sellers of illusion, turn a blind eye
To masters of confusion, turn a blind eye
To a hollow culture
To the circling vulture
To lovers of power, turn a blind eye
To the resurrection
To a world in chains, turn
I don’t want to get involved
It’s not my problem
I’ll just ignore it
I don’t want to feel this
To the starving children, turn a blind eye
To your own redemption, turn
To the horror of extinction
To a world in chains, turn.

The song explains the phrase with the example of a dilemma in the contemporary world, where almost everyone turns a blind eye to the problems that actually exist. The singer catalogs the miseries that need attention but unfortunately, no one wants to interpret them. Therefore, he urges the readers to turn a blind eye to these issues and turn to the world of illusions, to the hollow culture, and follow the masters of powers. Toward the end, however, he sadly states that he will simply ignore this recklessness. The lyrics not only shows the use of extended metaphor but also an explanation of the phrase.

Example #2

A Blind Eye by Deborah Tornillo

Can I turn a blind eye?
Say to myself
“It is what it is” or
Turn a face of denial?

I can turn it on
Right or wrong.
Trying to stay strong
For however long.

Torment, a reality
Eats away at the core
Continue to pray,
Pray to My Lord.

Can I turn a blind eye?
Say to myself
“Yes I can”
I’m in denial.

Lord, do you feel me?
My broken heart
It hurts.
Torn, torn apart.”

This poem speaks about the torments of a doomed speaker who intends to turn a blind eye to the uncertainties and brutalities of life. The first stanza shows how he fails to decipher the voice of his inner self.  The next two stanzas, however, indicate his resolute stance toward life. He determines to be strong but the torment never allows him. The last two stanzas further shed light on his state of denial, where he helplessly leaves himself in God’s hand, believing that his creator can better understand his pain. The phrase used in the first line demonstrates its meanings in an explicit sense.

Example #3

Turn a Blind Eye by Vicky Newham

This brilliant book, Turn a Blind Eye, presents a thrilling story of a twisted killer that presents a deadly riddle to Maya Rahman to solve. The protagonist, Maya Rahman returns to Bangladesh after attending the funeral of her brother who has committed suicide. Upon reaching, she heard the tragic news of the death of her staff member. Thus, she has pitched straight into the murder investigation, where she finds a note with the strangled body. However, the speaker does not want to turn a blind eye to that note and keep everything in mind. Therefore, the meanings show the use of a denotation.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “As a manager, you cannot turn a blind eye to the problems of your customers. Or else you will never retain them.”

Example #2: “The leader decided to turn a blind eye to the party’s dispute hoping that they won’t bring shame to the party next time. However, it resulted in serious consequences.”

Example #3: “A group of goons was insulting an elderly couple but instead defending them everybody turned a blind eye until a young woman defended her.”

Example #4: “Like the previous regimes, the present stakeholders also turn a blind eye to the poverty-stricken families.”

Example #5: “As a policeman, you cannot turn a blind eye to the illegal activities going on in your city.”