What does the idiom "keep an eye on sth" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does keep an eye on sth mean? In what situations is keep an eye on sth used?

Meaning of "keep an eye on sth"


The phrase "keep an eye on" is an idiom that is used to mean to pay close attention to or monitor something. It suggests vigilance and careful watchfulness, and it may be used when someone is tasked with a responsibility to keep watch over something.


The phrase "keep an eye on" is thought to have originated in the 19th century. It is believed to have derived from the phrase "keep an eye open," which was used in the late 1800s to mean being vigilant or watchful for something. The phrase has also been used to mean to watch a situation closely and make sure things do not get out of hand.


The phrase "keep an eye on" can be used both in a literal sense and in a figurative way. In the literal sense, it is used to suggest that someone is physically keeping an eye on something or someone. In the figurative sense, it is used to imply monitoring, such as keeping an eye on progress, keeping an eye out for danger, or keeping an eye on the competition. It can also be used to suggest careful observation of another person's behavior.

Example Sentences

  • I'm going to keep an eye on the kids while they are playing in the park.
  • The police are keeping an eye on the suspect's movements.
  • I'm keeping an eye on the stock market, just in case there are any changes.
  • Keep an eye on your brother and make sure he doesn't get into any trouble.

The meanings of the words in the "keep an eye on sth" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.


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