It started with a British Admiral: "turn a blind eye"

The idiom "turn a blind" started with this man, Lord Horatio Nelson, the famous British Admiral.

Typically, the stories behind English idioms are somewhat bland compared to Chinese idioms, but the idiom for “turn a blind eye” is actually one that is interesting.

There was a British Vice-Admiral, Lord Horatio Nelson who had been blinded in one of his eyes early in his naval career.   During a battle, his commander raised a flag from another ship giving him permission to withdraw if he chose to do so.

Nelson was much bolder than his commanding Admiral.   He lifted his telescope to his blind eye, “withdrawal signal?  I don’t see a withdrawal signal!”   He went on to win the battle.

When we say “turn a blind eye” it means to disregard, overlook, ignore, or disregard something, often times being something that is wrong, unethical, or immoral.

Examples:   “The police in that part of town would turn a blind eye to the drug dealing because they were bribed.”

“There was a policy in the office that coworkers could not date, but the manager turned a blind eye to the relationship between Sherry and Manny.”

I hope you don’t turn a blind eye to these idioms, especially when you have a chance to write your own.  Please give it a try.

Is there a Chinese idiom similar to “turn a blind eye“?

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  1. [...] agree with everything they write. Being a Vegetarian and Animal Right’s Activist,  I turn a blind eye when I object and take in the content that aligns with my [...]

  2. [...] Dave is a man after my own heart, writing about China in particular at MyChinaConnection and doing a fine job at that. Idioms is his forte and the one that he likes tonight is turn a blind eye. [...]

  3. [...] David, who blogs on English Idioms for Chinese people who wish to become proficient in English writes about the idiom “turn a blind eye“. [...]

  4. [...] I just turn a blind eye, because it is the just easy way not involve so many stressful situations and sometimes I deeply [...]

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  6. [...] phrases. He also likes to explain English idioms to Chinese readers as well. For example, “Turn a blind eye,” has a sordid past that includes a British [...]

  7. tastwell says:

    视而不见
    熟视无睹

  8. [...] Dave is a man after my own heart, writing about China in particular at MyChinaConnection and doing a fine job at that. Idioms is his forte and the one that he likes tonight is turn a blind eye. [...]

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