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This is from the BBC,Recovery from cancer

She's eyeing-up Christmas, being a bridesmaid at her auntie's wedding, getting back on her bike, going back to school and "just doing normal people stuff".

The verb "eye-up" is used here in the sense "looking forward to doing something". But I looked it up in the dictionaries, and they do not have a meaning "looking forward to".

Is this the right word in this sentence?

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  • Presumably it is used in the sense look closely at something you are interested in. Dec 11, 2022 at 8:33
  • @Kate Bunting, Thanks a lot, but how can she eye-up something which has not yet come into existence or something not physical, such as Christmas, being a bridesmaid, getting back on her bike, going back to school. These are all things that you can imagine or look forward to in your mind. The "eye-up" requires something physical in front of your eyes so you can closely look at it. Anyway, Would you use "eye-up" in that sense as a native speaker?
    – Yunus
    Dec 11, 2022 at 8:43
  • No, I wouldn't, but presumably the reporter was looking for a variation on 'looking forward to' and made a not-very-successful choice. Dec 11, 2022 at 9:53
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    You can eye-up things that are not physically before your eyes, or even tangible at all. I am currently (mentally) eyeing-up vacation choices for 2023. We very often use verbs relating to the senses in a figurative way when discussing mental activities. I can listen to my heart, see your point, smell a rat, or point the finger, without my ears, eyes, nose, or hand being involved, or any visible recipient of these activities. This is an important point, and points (no hand!) to a gap in your learning, or a learning path. Dec 11, 2022 at 11:56

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I don't think it is a very well-chosen phrase. The sense is not quite "look forward to" (which has a certainty that something will happen) but "hope that she might be able to enjoy".

"Eying-up" usually means look at someone with sexual interest, but it can mean more generally "look at something with initial plans", or "hope to be able to get something". You can say "John was eyeing up the bike" (meaning he was hoping that he might be able to get that bike).

So this girl is hoping that she might be able to enjoy Christmas and being a bridesmaid etc. For her, these things are not certain, which is why "look forward to" is not quite the right phrase. However "eye up" is also a little odd and just not quite right.

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  • Thanks James, very well explained.
    – Yunus
    Dec 11, 2022 at 8:44

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