The Eyes Have It

Just what do they have, though? For ages, eyes have been said to be the windows into the soul, but as any good writer knows, what those windows show is dependent on that one small word chosen to describe them. And even words that in other contexts could be said to mean virtually the same thing take on vastly different connotations when they’re used to describe our eyes. So, what are those expressive orbs really saying? Let’s listen in:

Sparkling Eyes: “It’s Uncle Hans’s birthday, and I have a troupe of acrobats and jugglers to perform at his surprise party. It’ll be the first time anybody’s ever been able to surprise Uncle Hans, and boy, will he EVER be surprised!” Or, there could often be a note of mostly-harmless mischief detectable with sparkling eyes: “The boss is always paranoid about being wiretapped; just wait till he sees that oversize fake “bug” in his office. April Fool, boss!”
Glittering Eyes: Not-so-harmless mischief here. “Ha ha, you think that microphone is fake? Go right ahead and laugh, comrade. You’ll see!”
Gleaming Eyes: “Mom and Dad are away for the weekend, so I think it might be nice to have a few dozen close personal friends over to the house for a party! Won’t that be fun?”
Flashing Eyes: “You had FORTY people in to play indoor baseball while we were away?! Is that, perhaps, why the living-room furniture is all floating in the neighbors’ swimming pool?”
Shining Eyes: Little Annie just received a pony of her very own! A real live pony!
Glistening Eyes: The real live pony has just stepped squarely, and with malice aforethought (possibly he had a glittering eye?) on Little Annie’s foot.

You see how it is. All those adjectives, when applied to, say, a diamond, would pretty much mean the same thing. But applied to human (or, I suppose, animal) eyes, the choice of words can make or break the atmosphere.

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