In the lyrics of the song "Far Away Eyes" by the Rolling Stones it is said:

I had an arrangement to meet a girl, and I was kind of late
And I thought by the time I got there she'd be off
She'd be off with the nearest truck driver she could find
Much to my surprise, there she was sittin' in the corner
A little bleary, worse for wear and tear
Was a girl with far away eyes

I researched the meaning of the expression "worse for wear and tear" and found the following:

Origin of Worse for Wear
This translates into as things are used, they wear and deteriorate. After worse for wear became a popular expression, a new expression came about: none worse for the wear, meaning used but not worn out. Similar expressions to worse for wear are worn out and wear and tear.

I can't understand how this type of adjective applies to a person, in this case the girl mentioned in the song. As far as I can understand it seems to be appropriate if you're talking about clothes, shoes, etc., but I can't decipher what it could mean in relation to a person.

In fact the entire phrase "A little bleary, worse for wear and tear" sounds confusing or unclear to me, including what the actual meaning of the expression "a little bleary" could be.

  • 1
    I don't remember hearing this expression without an initial "the": "Looking much the worse for wear." Collins, Oxford, Cambridge and Longman dictionaries seem to confirm that usage. Ngram too. Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 4:41
  • Where does your quote come from? You are supposed to reference such things. Was it ChatGPT? (Cambridge Dictionaries give a good answer so you should maybe look there next time.)
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 12:08
  • Did you look up bleary in a dictionary?
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 12:28
  • 1
    The speaker of the lyric imagines her to be living a difficult life of some kind. She could be a runaway teen. We gather from the lyric I thought by the time I got there ... She'd be off with the nearest truck driver she could find it's possible she was being used, possibly roughly, by strangers. She would be worse from that kind of physical and emotional "wear and tear". Her eyes could be bleary from fatigue, poor nutrition, drinking, or drug-use, or all of those things combined.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 12:37

2 Answers 2


The context of that verse suggests that the girl could be a party girl or a working girl. Either way, such activities take a toll, physical and emotional, looking old beyond her years.

Meaning, she is suffering the wear and tear of her lifestyle.

Now, it is an odd construct and is actually a combination of two expressions.

"worse for wear" something showing it's usage. "That saddle's a bit worse for wear but still good."


"wear and tear" the actual usage put on something. "Taking the train saves wear and tear on your car."

Both expressions are very old so I'll say it's just poetic license.

"A little bleary" (dull, unfocused, tired) suggests she may have just returned from an encounter with an aforementioned truck driver. Looking disheveled and unkept as a result.

  • 2
    None of "bleary-eyed", "worse for wear", or "wear and tear" are archaic. They're all in common, current use.
    – BadZen
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 2:25
  • 2
    @BadZen Just stop. I did not say they were archaic in any way, show me the quote. I said they are very old, which they are, so it's unlikely Mick or Keith weren't already familiar with them.
    – DTRT
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 10:24
  • 2
    “Bleary” suggests she’s been drinking (appropriate for a bar), rather than the other thing that ends in “ing” with the truck driver. That could be the source of her being “worse for wear and tear”.
    – Dale M
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 11:46

"Bleary" here has the sense of "bleary-eyed", as in "weary or tired". MW additionally gives "unfocused or filmy". You probably have experienced "bleary eyes", late at night or early in the morning.

"Worse for wear" means the thing we are describing is damaged or in some other way undesirable because of age or constant use. Think of tires wearing down over time, or leather shoes starting to fall apart. The phrases "worse for wear" and "wear and tear" are here combined, with roughly the same meaning as "worse for wear".

This expression can absolutely apply to a person - the implication is that their life experience has been difficult or in some way damaging and has left them worse off.

The entire expression "A little bleary, worse for wear and tear" has the same meaning as "a little bleary-eyed, and worse for wear and tear".

  • Saying someone is '[the] worse for wear' is a very common informal way of saying that they are drunk. Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 21:54

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