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’
    ‘Robin sat staring into space, her mind numb’
    • ‘Adam rested his head on his hand and stared vacantly at the empty table across from them.’
    • ‘He just sits there all day staring at the computer screen, even when nothing is happening.’
    • ‘I used to sit and stare at the sky for hours just imagining what was out there.’
    • ‘The rest of us sat staring into space, apparently waiting for an answer to arrive like a visitor from the spirit world.’
    • ‘For the next two minutes he sat, staring at the clock and waiting to hear the door opening.’
    • ‘Aiden stared at me vacantly for several seconds before realization dawned on him.’
    • ‘Lee stared at me vacantly like one of those boys in B and Q when you ask them where the matt emulsion is.’
    • ‘I just couldn't muster the willpower to finish them off and was just sat staring into space.’
    • ‘William Golding once wrote that you know you're a writer when you sit and stare at a page until your forehead bleeds.’
    • ‘I position his little baby rocker beside the window, and he'll sit and stare quietly at the trees and sky.’
    • ‘Daryl was also sitting at his desk staring at a drawing he had done of his little sister.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We sat there staring out at the ocean in silence for a few moments and then Becky spoke.’
    • ‘After a few minutes, he went back and sat down but he was still staring out into space.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She made no demands, but just sat staring at me every time I went into the kitchen.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My wife is sitting in the recliner staring intensely at the television.’
    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 gray eyes stared back at him’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The wounded are lying on the floors and on beds, their unseeing eyes staring blankly ahead.’
      • ‘Initially I found it slightly disconcerting to have dozens of sad fish eyes staring up.’
      • ‘His fists pumped the air, wide eyes staring at the night sky that he had thought he would never see again.’
      • ‘For several minutes his eyes stare right through me, as if he were out upon the ocean.’
      • ‘When she opened her eyes, a pair of blue eyes were staring at her straight in the face.’
      • ‘His eyes stare dully from a pinched little face etched with pain and suffering.’
      • ‘There was a huge pool of blood around her head and her eyes were staring.’
      • ‘The fish lay at the back of the boat, its mouth agape, its eyes staring sightlessly at us.’
      • ‘Waiting at the end of the runway, eyes staring like a madman, he let his concentration build.’
      • ‘I looked in the rearview mirror to see two glassy dilated eyes staring back at me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Her glazed eyes were still open, unblinking, staring fixedly at nothing in particular.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Tony went in search of her and found her in the garden, seated on a bench, her eyes staring at the sky.’
      • ‘Once there he sat on the bed with his knees clutched to his chest, his eyes staring.’
      gaze, gape, goggle, gawk, glare, ogle, leer, peer, look fixedly, look vacantly
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2(of a thing) be unpleasantly prominent or striking.
      ‘the obituaries stared out at us’
      • ‘Just a few feet off the starboard bow, the bloated carcass of a full-grown steer stared back at us.’
      • ‘He finally turned his gaze to her, his glare seeming to stare straight into her soul.’


  • A long fixed or vacant look.

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


  • be staring something in the face

    • Be on the verge of something inevitable or inescapable.

      ‘our team was staring defeat in the face’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Football League oblivion is staring the club in the face.’
      • ‘Just four months ago, the LDP was staring an electoral disaster 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.’
      • ‘Secretary Bruce Cook said: ‘Another disaster like the Holbeck Hall is staring them in the face again and they are ignoring it.’’
      • ‘And their first two-game losing streak was staring them 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.’
      • ‘When Steve Prescott scored his second just after the break Salford were staring a hefty 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.’
      • ‘To their eternal credit however Ballyduff never wilted even when the inevitability of defeat was staring them in the face.’
  • stare someone in the eye (or face)

    • Look fixedly or boldly at someone.

      • ‘The reporter was stunned by an official staring him in the eye and telling a straight lie.’
      • ‘Eventually she'll be staring me in the eye.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They are designed so wherever you stand they are staring you in the eye.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When it eventually settles, you're left with a couple of inches of white stuff staring you in the face.’
      • ‘But there it was, staring me in the face - the bagel.’
      • ‘Moments later and Marcelle was staring Fettis in the face again.’
      • ‘It makes you work - the bad review staring you in the face.’
  • stare someone 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘The solution to all youth problems has been staring us in the face for years.’
      • ‘It refers to the capacity we have for not naming uncomfortable truths, even though they're staring us 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But sometimes you don't need to ask questions because the answer is staring you in the face.’
      • ‘I know that the answer is staring me in the face, I just can't see it.’
      • ‘I spent the whole time looking for something that 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

Phrasal Verbs

  • stare someone down

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

      • ‘On Lateline last night one felt confident that Julia Gillard would stare them down if it was left to her.’
      • ‘And it's difficult to feel relaxed and contented at home if you've got the house-mate from hell staring you down across the kitchen.’
      • ‘So 700 curious faces stared me down from head to toe as I walked up to the podium.’
      • ‘He stared me down, a bit unnervingly I might add.’
      • ‘Will Labor have the courage to stare Howard down?’
      • ‘He was trying to stare me down, but it wasn't working.’
      • ‘I looked round and Leander was standing three feet away staring me down.’
      • ‘Charlie continued to stare me down with a very intimidating gaze.’
      • ‘However, I stared them down, and time has proven me correct.’
      • ‘There was the unmistakable air of sheer defiance in that bite, and if the audience didn't get it the first time, she repeated the bold gesture, staring us down with an audacious grin.’


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