2

It is a great list, which would tempt anyone with eyes and curiosity. As all prizes should, the Turner gives the appearance of rewarding achievement, when what it is really doing is luring in the unsuspecting audience with outrage, spectacle, fun, and something amazingly new. (The Independent)

Source

Is it proper or idiomatic English to say "with eyes and curiosity"?

Obviously, as to say, from the context it is clear what the journalist would say—i.e., "with curious eyes"—,but I'd like to know if that construction is commonly used, at least in parlance. Is it?

6

Yes, it is proper English. In order to be tempted, you need to have two things: First, you need to have eyes, and second, you need to have curiosity.

This is NOT the same thing as "curious eyes"; in this arrangement, first you need to have eyes, and second, your eyes need to be curious. "Curious eyes" is not idiomatic and its meaning is not immediately clear.

Essentially, this is the author's way of saying that the list should tempt everyone; the requirements are ones that anybody should be able to meet. In other words, if you don't find something tempting on the list, it's because there's something wrong with you, not because the list is lacking in any way.

Also, it may be worth noting that the use of "with eyes and curiosity" is perfectly valid in this structure (as a restrictive modifier for "anyone") but would be inappropriate in other places, such as "He examined the subject with eyes and curiosity"; here it feels more like an instance of syllepsis.

  • 1
    +1 for syllepsis - to be honest, even as used in OP's example I find it's bordering on an inappropriate conjunction. Obviously almost everyone has both eyes and curiosity, but they're very different attributes. Assuming you have eyes at all, you have them all the time - even when you're asleep. But (hyperbole excepted) I can't imagine anyone being continuously curious in the same sense (it would probably be considered a serious medical condition if they were). – FumbleFingers May 30 '13 at 21:24
  • 2
    ...but I must just point out that 8000+ written instances of "him with curious eyes" does rather suggest it is "idiomatic". Figurative, obviously, since eyes themselves are just sense organs - they don't have the neural circuitry to be curious. Nor are many of those instances likely to mean strange eyes (in the opinion of anyone else looking at those eyes). – FumbleFingers May 30 '13 at 21:27
  • @Fumble, incredible, what great comments, +1 x 2. – user114 May 30 '13 at 21:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy