Ay - aye - eye - I

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Eye, ay and I form one of the sets of homophones listed by the then Poet Laureate Robert Bridges.
(For more, see Bridges homophones). AWE has a category listing our articles on each of these.

All are pronounced the same way - in the diphthong represented by IPA: /aɪ/, to rhyme with 'why', 'lie' and 'sigh'.

  • ay and aye (which are largely interchangeable - see further Ay - aye - has two meanings:
    • 'yes'; and
    • 'always'
  • The basic meaning of eye is to do with sight.
    • As a noun, an eye is 'the organ of sight', which in humans (and most vertebrates) exists in pairs, one on each side of the face.
    • As a verb, 'to eye' means 'to look at [usually with intention, e.g. lust, cupidity, or greed]'.
      • Figurative meanings of 'eye' fall into different groups.
        • Eye can indicate perceptions or perceptiveness, as in "He has a good eye for horseflesh" (~ he is a connoisseur, a good judge, of horses), the 'eye of faith', or 'of reason'; or Macbeth's
"It is the eye of childhood
That fears a painted devil."
        • An eye is often an opening or a hollow space, as in the eye of a needle (through which the thread is passed), a 'hook and eye, a type of fastening for clothes in which the hook catches in an opening made by thread or metal; and many openings constructed in cordage, for example by means of an eye-splice; the eye (or calm area at the centre) of a storm: in the oddest etymological derivation, 'window' is a descendant of the Old Norse vindr 'wind' and auga 'eye' a window is just an opening for the wind.
  • I is the first person singular pronoun. For more, see first person.