Definition of stare in English:



  • 1 Look fixedly or vacantly at someone or something with one's eyes wide open.

    ‘he stared at her in amazement’
    ‘Robyn sat staring into space, her mind numb’
    • ‘Pat stares fixedly at the fuzzy diagram on their worksheets.’
    • ‘This morning I came in as early as I could to find Grace sitting at her desk staring at her blank screen.’
    • ‘After a few minutes, he went back and sat down but he was still staring out into space.’
    • ‘This meant that I had low energy and I tended to sit and stare into space.’
    • ‘Writer's block just disappears because you never have to sit there staring at a blank page.’
    • ‘Lee stared at me vacantly like one of those boys in B and Q when you ask them where the matt emulsion is.’
    • ‘He just sits there all day staring at the computer screen, even when nothing is happening.’
    • ‘I just couldn't muster the willpower to finish them off and was just sat staring into space.’
    • ‘I position his little baby rocker beside the window, and he'll sit and stare quietly at the trees and sky.’
    • ‘My wife is sitting in the recliner staring intensely at the television.’
    • ‘I used to sit and stare at the sky for hours just imagining what was out there.’
    • ‘For the next two minutes he sat, staring at the clock and waiting to hear the door opening.’
    • ‘The rest of us sat staring into space, apparently waiting for an answer to arrive like a visitor from the spirit world.’
    • ‘Daryl was also sitting at his desk staring at a drawing he had done of his little sister.’
    • ‘William Golding once wrote that you know you're a writer when you sit and stare at a page until your forehead bleeds.’
    • ‘Aiden stared at me vacantly for several seconds before realization dawned on him.’
    • ‘We sat there staring out at the ocean in silence for a few moments and then Becky spoke.’
    • ‘I had to sit down and stare at the beach towel display in the window of House of Fraser for ten minutes until my composure was restored.’
    • ‘Adam rested his head on his hand and stared vacantly at the empty table across from them.’
    • ‘She made no demands, but just sat staring at me every time I went into the kitchen.’
    gaze, gape, goggle, gawk, glare, ogle, leer, peer, look fixedly, look vacantly
    study, survey, observe, watch closely, eyeball, outstare
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(of a person's eyes) be wide open, with a fixed or vacant expression.
      ‘her grey eyes stared back at him’
      • ‘His fists pumped the air, wide eyes staring at the night sky that he had thought he would never see again.’
      • ‘The wounded are lying on the floors and on beds, their unseeing eyes staring blankly ahead.’
      • ‘Tru turned around to see a young man with blonde hair and blue eyes staring down at her.’
      • ‘She turned to face the front and looked right into a pair of brown eyes staring back at her.’
      • ‘Before it goes to a blackout, you're left with a black screen and a pair of white eyes staring out of it, forever awake.’
      • ‘I looked in the rearview mirror to see two glassy dilated eyes staring back at me.’
      • ‘They were like the zombies of paradise, their mouths hanging open, their eyes staring up at the screen.’
      • ‘All eyes were staring at Anastasia waiting for her response to her brother.’
      • ‘Waiting at the end of the runway, eyes staring like a madman, he let his concentration build.’
      • ‘My heart was pumping and my eyes kept staring at his hand that was wrapped around mine.’
      • ‘Her mask had gone and her eyes were staring, wide with obvious panic but unseeing.’
      • ‘Tony went in search of her and found her in the garden, seated on a bench, her eyes staring at the sky.’
      • ‘The fish lay at the back of the boat, its mouth agape, its eyes staring sightlessly at us.’
      • ‘Initially I found it slightly disconcerting to have dozens of sad fish eyes staring up.’
      • ‘There was a huge pool of blood around her head and her eyes were staring.’
      • ‘Once there he sat on the bed with his knees clutched to his chest, his eyes staring.’
      • ‘Her glazed eyes were still open, unblinking, staring fixedly at nothing in particular.’
      • ‘His eyes stare dully from a pinched little face etched with pain and suffering.’
      • ‘When she opened her eyes, a pair of blue eyes were staring at her straight in the face.’
      • ‘For several minutes his eyes stare right through me, as if he were out upon the ocean.’
      gaze, gape, goggle, gawk, glare, ogle, leer, peer, look fixedly, look vacantly
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2[no object, with adverbial of direction]Be unpleasantly prominent or striking.
      ‘the obituaries stared out at us’
      • ‘He finally turned his gaze to her, his glare seeming to stare straight into her soul.’
      • ‘Just a few feet off the starboard bow, the bloated carcass of a full-grown steer stared back at us.’


  • A long fixed or vacant look.

    ‘she gave him a cold stare’
    • ‘The boys greeted each other with cold stares, sizing each other up.’
    • ‘He raised his head slightly, and continued to return my stare.’
    • ‘His eyes were closed but he could still feel their cold stares.’
    • ‘He gave me a cold stare and returned his attention to his girlfriend.’
    • ‘Elizabeth shot him a cold stare and held it until he looked away in defeat.’
    • ‘To most of my friends and family, the announcement was greeted by cold confused stares and some tears.’
    • ‘He had adopted a vacant stare and purposely looked straight ahead as the woman spoke.’
    • ‘He returned many of the cold stares with quick nods and smiles as he walked by, but few people acknowledged them.’
    • ‘Her eyes looked deep into mine with a cold stare before she continued to speak.’
    • ‘Grace just returned his stare, and Roger put a hand to his forehead in frustration.’
    • ‘We were met with cold stares from policemen and BSF officials who could be spotted everywhere.’
    • ‘She looked into his eyes and tried to meet his cold stare with one of her own.’
    • ‘Jerry gave a cold stare to the examiner, one of the High Councilors of the Society.’
    • ‘He returned his cold stare to the carefree couple below and fantasized about his victory.’
    • ‘Jim returned an icy stare, then looked away, towards the judge who was just now coming in.’
    • ‘With a slam of her hand on the desk, everyone glanced at her, their cold stares boring into her soul.’
    • ‘‘At that time, we were a little despised by the local people, and felt they gave us cold stares,’ she said.’
    • ‘She gazed at him in wonder, and he returned her stare with a look of friendly curiosity.’
    • ‘He had a piercing gaze, a direct contrast to the cold stares of the technicians.’
    • ‘You remember their cold stares with dark and glassy eyes.’


  • be staring one in the face

    • Be glaringly apparent or obvious.

      ‘the answer had been staring him in the face’
      • ‘The answer is staring us in the face and organisations need to get on and do something about it.’
      • ‘It refers to the capacity we have for not naming uncomfortable truths, even though they're staring us in the face.’
      • ‘I know that the answer is staring me in the face, I just can't see it.’
      • ‘The solution to all youth problems has been staring us in the face for years.’
      • ‘Namely, if what you are suggesting could be achieved (publishers, roll up your sleeves), then the solution all along was staring us in the face: just sell more copies!’
      • ‘But sometimes you don't need to ask questions because the answer is staring you in the face.’
      • ‘I spent the whole time looking for something that was staring me in the face.’
      • ‘The answer to the perennial problem of how to lose weight is staring you in the face: if a recent report from the World Cancer Research Fund is anything to go by, we are simply eating too much.’
      • ‘The search for the missing link is doomed to failure because we would have no way of recognizing it even if it were staring us in the face.’
      • ‘I desperately didn't want to believe there had been a campaign, and denied it to myself even when the evidence was staring me in the face.’
      be obvious, be clear, be plain, be plain to see, be crystal clear, be evident, be apparent, be manifest, be patent, be conspicuous, be prominent, be transparent, be clear-cut, be palpable, be unmistakable, be indisputable, be self-evident, be undeniable, be as plain as a pikestaff, be writ large, be written all over one, be as clear as day, be blinding, be inescapable
      be as plain as the nose on one's face, be standing out like a sore thumb, be sticking out like a sore thumb, be standing out a mile, be sticking out a mile, be right under one's nose
      View synonyms
  • be staring something in the face

    • Be on the verge of defeat, death, or another unpleasant fate.

      ‘Everton were staring defeat in the face’
      • ‘They want to believe that everything is fine, and if necessary they'll halfway convince themselves it is, even when evidence to the contrary is staring them in the face.’
      • ‘When Steve Prescott scored his second just after the break Salford were staring a hefty defeat in the face.’
      • ‘Looking back, with the benefit of hindsight, it may seem to most people that the Council overlooked what was staring them in the face.’
      • ‘Just four months ago, the LDP was staring an electoral disaster in the face.’
      • ‘And their first two-game losing streak was staring them in the face.’
      • ‘Thus, in the occupied areas of the Soviet Union, Poland, and the Balkans, people had little to lose by resisting, since death was staring them in the face irrespective of their actions.’
      • ‘Just when it seemed a comprehensive defeat was staring them in the face Ardmore proceeded to enjoy their most productive spell of the entire game.’
      • ‘To their eternal credit however Ballyduff never wilted even when the inevitability of defeat was staring them in the face.’
      • ‘Football League oblivion is staring the club in the face.’
      • ‘Secretary Bruce Cook said: ‘Another disaster like the Holbeck Hall is staring them in the face again and they are ignoring it.’’
  • stare someone in the eye (or face)

    • Look fixedly or boldly at someone.

      ‘I stared him straight in the eye but he didn't recognize me’
      • ‘The reporter was stunned by an official staring him in the eye and telling a straight lie.’
      • ‘You'll just erect a huge, ugly billboard that stares them in the face as they drive past it every day, forcing their parents to explain what the sign is about.’
      • ‘Little did she realise that a month later, she would be asleep on the sofa and look up to see him staring her in the face.’
      • ‘Moments later and Marcelle was staring Fettis in the face again.’
      • ‘Eventually she'll be staring me in the eye.’
      • ‘They are designed so wherever you stand they are staring you in the eye.’
      • ‘It makes you work - the bad review staring you in the face.’
      • ‘It's logical not to want a soulless existence in an air-conditioned office, with a PC staring you in the face and stack of returns to input.’
      • ‘But there it was, staring me in the face - the bagel.’
      • ‘When it eventually settles, you're left with a couple of inches of white stuff staring you in the face.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • stare someone out (or down)

    • Look fixedly at someone, typically in a hostile or intimidating way, until they feel forced to look away.

      ‘Vi hissed, meeting his gaze, preparing to stare him out’
      • ‘It was if he was trying to stare me out and get me to tell him everything he wanted.’
      • ‘I try to stare Nathan out, wondering when he will ever talk.’
      • ‘The vociferousness of his appeal showed he felt that it should have been at least a spot kick, but the linesman, on whom he vented the venom, stared him out.’
      • ‘‘I'm Only Human’ stands out immediately, singer David Jones leaning over slightly, daring you to stare him out.’
      • ‘She was annoying, it's true, but this guy kept looking up from his book and staring at her the way people stare you out in West London before planting a knife in you.’
      • ‘He kept looking back and I kept staring him out, I think he was a little bit on the scared side.’
      • ‘The foreign-looking barman will stare at you quizzically, but you will muster all the bravado you can, stare him out and repeat the request like he's the world's dumbest mammal.’
      • ‘It quickly transpires that he believed my mate was ‘staring him out’ from across the pub and he wasn't happy about it.’


Old English starian, of Germanic origin, from a base meaning be rigid.