Former CIA director John Brennan -- shown here in September 2016 -- says he knows he has a "bullseye" on his chest over his comments on Donald Trump (AFP Photo/MARK WILSON)

I saw the sentence from this article. I think it's a figurative speech. My big guess would be that John Brennan put himself on the spot where he could receive some potential (verbal) attacks from Trump supporters, after he put those comments on Donald Trump. But I am not sure if I get it right.

Is it a common metaphor?

up vote 24 down vote accepted

Bullseye (also bull’s-eye) is:

The centre of the target in sports such as archery, shooting, and darts.

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The expression is often used metaphorically to suggest a precise goal or purpose.

In your sentence it refers to the fact that Former CIA director has become a “target” of possible attacks because of his comments on President Trump.

Yes, it's a common metaphor and it takes its place among several others in the same theme:

He has a target on his back.
He is in the crosshairs.
He is in the line of fire.
He is an easy target.
He is easy prey.
He is a sitting duck.

They are all related to hunting and indicate that somebody is noticeable and vulnerable to attack.

Update: Comments have said that a bull's-eye is not related to hunting, but this is all metaphorical anyway. A bull's-eye is not used in hunting, and would normally never be put on somebody's chest. But if I did put one on somebody's chest and then let them "run away," it's only purpose could be for me to both locate them easily once I started looking for them and then to use it as a target.

An early movie that depicted the hunting of humans for sport was the 1932 The Most Dangerous Game. The theme has continued since then.

  • 3
    I agree with you but I wouldn't have said these, or at least most of them, were hunting related. Most of them are more military in nature to my mind. – Eric Nolan Aug 20 at 8:27
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    Bullseye originated in target shooting (whether with firearms or bows) and darts. – Martin Bonner Aug 20 at 9:42
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    I'd agree with the others that these metaphors are all fine, and related, but not specific to hunting. I'd instead say that they are related to shooting at things, whether with a gun, or bow and arrow. Some are related to hunting, some are related to warfare, and some are related to target practise. "shooting at things" is more general. – Max Williams Aug 20 at 16:08
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    I think your first three are roughly synonymous with the OP's metaphor, but the other three, while related, are not quite so similar in meaning. Being in the crosshairs, with a target on your back, or a bull's eye on your chest, means that you are going to come under attack – but not that you won't be able to withstand it. However, when you are easy prey, or a sitting duck, there seems to be a stronger indication that you'll come out on the losing end. – J.R. Aug 20 at 17:23
  • I'm not sure that this term really needs to take a dark turn into hunting human beings to be fully explained. – ColleenV Aug 20 at 18:25

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