The expression didn't bat an eye is well recognized. As an idiomatic such, one has to be careful not to tamper with it too much risking its integrity. However, I did use it in a bit different grammatical form and people were surprised. They, sort of batted the eyes.

Oh, this was definitely an eye batting moment, won't you agree?

My view is that's both obvious and a bit witty. However, I'm known to be rather inventive when it comes to grammar and vocabulary so I keep humble as a non NSE to verify whether the reality agrees with me.

  • Is there a reason why you don't think it works? perhaps describing the situation you used it in might help? On the face of it, I can't see anything wrong with it (a moment that would elicit an emotional response), but there may be context that would invalidate it's application. See the similar UkE phrase bat an eyelid idioms.thefreedictionary.com/not+bat+an+eyelid
    – Smock
    Aug 1, 2019 at 9:55
  • @Smock The only reason why I fear it didn't get through is the sensation I got from the audience's reaction. They seemed to understand the intended meaning but it felt like I could've said ...this was definitely donkey-banana moment... and they'd guess what I mean too. Without it having officially confirmed, as the conversation went on without dwelling on this, I retained the impression that this particular expression didn't contribute to the clarity of communication. Might be my ever-so-present complex for being non-NSE, of course... Aug 1, 2019 at 10:06
  • Well it seems ok to me, and I would understand it. I'm not sure how it would be witty though (again, without context)
    – Smock
    Aug 1, 2019 at 10:11
  • @Smock Thanks. You might want to repost it as a answer to be accepted, in such case. As for the wittiness, perhaps I'm using the wrong word. My point is that I'm using a familiar expression in a bit modified way. Compare woosh which is a sound of something wooshing you by. If I say woosh moment, it's not a common construction but a bit clever or creative compound of concepts. What would be a better term for it? Aug 1, 2019 at 11:45
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    I first interpreted it in the sense of "to bat (one's) eyes at someone" - but that was obviously not what you meant. Perhaps context would've helped be distinguish it better.
    – firedraco
    Aug 1, 2019 at 14:49

1 Answer 1


No, it doesn't lose its idiomatic meaning if you say "eye-batting", assuming that the listener recognizes the idiom. There should also be enough context to support the "didn't flinch" interpretation, as "to bat one's eyes" means something else entirely.

As for whether it's clever ... well, to me it sounds a little forced, but then again cleverness is all about context. It would be fine, for example, in a situation where you were playing off of someone else using the standard idiom, especially if their use was slightly awkward and you wanted to draw attention to it:

Alecia: When the teacher called on me, I didn't bat an eye. I stood right up and gave the answer.
Bart: We're glad you did because there was plenty of eye-batting from the rest of us. We didn't have a clue.

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