evil eye
   A demonic power of causing illness, misfortune, calamity, and death through the eyes. Evil eye beliefs are universal and date to ancient times. The oldest recorded reference to the evil eye appears in the cuneiform texts of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians, about 3000 B.C.E. The ancient Egyptians believed in it and used eye shadow and lipstick to prevent the evil eye from entering their eyes or mouths. The Bible makes references to it in both the Old and New Testaments. It is among ancient Hindu folk beliefs. Evil eye superstitions remained strong into modern times, especially in Mediterranean countries such as Italy, and in Mexico and Central America.
   There are two kinds of evil eye, involuntary and deliberate. Most cases of evil eye are believed to occur involuntarily; the person casting it does not mean to do it and probably is not even aware of it. No revenge is sought for this hazard.
   A deliberate, malevolent evil eye is called “overlooking” and is a form of witchcraft that can bring about misfortune or catastrophe: illness, poverty, injury, loss of love, even death. In the Middle Ages, witches, who were in league with the DEVIL, were said to give anyone who crossed them the evil eye and to use it to bewitch judges from convicting them.
   The evil eye also occurs when someone, especially a stranger, admires another’s children, livestock, or possessions or casts anyone a lingering look. Unless immediate precautions are taken, the children become sick, the animals die, the possessions are stolen, or good fortune in business turns sour. If the evil eye cannot be warded off, the victim must turn to an initiate—usually an older woman in the family—who knows a secret cure. Besides envious glances, the evil eye results from strangers in town or anyone who has unusual or differentcolored eyes, for example, a blue-eyed stranger in a land of brown-eyed people. Some unfortunate souls are born with a permanent evil eye, laying waste to everything they see.
   The primary defense against evil eye is an AMULET. Most common are frogs, horns, and the “fig,” a clenched fist with thumb thrust between the index and middle fingers. Horns and the fig represent a phallus and are associated with the Roman phallic god Fascinus (Priapus). His name is derived from the word fascinum, which means “witchcraft.” The evil eye is sometimes called fascination. Other amulets include various herbs and stones, red ribbons, and spitting.
   FURTHER READING:
   - Elworthy, Frederick Thomas. The Evil Eye. Secaucus, N.J.: University Books/Citadel Press, 1895 ed.
   - Frieskens, Barbara. Living with Djinns: Understanding and Dealing with the Invisible in Cairo. London: Saqi Books, 2008.

Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. . 2009.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • EVIL EYE — (Heb. עַיִן הָרָע, ayin ha ra; lit., the eye of the evil ; Aram. עֵינָא בִּישָׁא, eina bisha), a widespread belief that some persons may produce malevolent effects on others by looking at them, based on the supposed power of some eyes to bewitch… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • evil eye — evil eyed, adj. 1. a look thought capable of inflicting injury or bad luck on the person at whom it is directed. 2. the power, superstitiously attributed to certain persons, of inflicting injury or bad luck by such a look. [bef. 1000; ME, OE] * * …   Universalium

  • Evil eye — Evil E*vil ([=e] v l) a. [OE. evel, evil, ifel, uvel, AS. yfel; akin to OFries, evel, D. euvel, OS. & OHG. ubil, G. [ u]bel, Goth. ubils, and perh. to E. over.] 1. Having qualities tending to injury and mischief; having a nature or properties… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Evil eye — E vil eye See {Evil eye} under {Evil}, a. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • evil eye — n. 1. a look believed by some to be able to harm or bewitch the one stared at 2. the power to cast such a look: With the …   English World dictionary

  • Evil eye — Nazars, charms used to ward off the evil eye. The evil eye is a look that is believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike. The term also refers to the power… …   Wikipedia

  • evil eye — noun a look that is believed to have the power of inflicting harm • Hypernyms: ↑look, ↑looking, ↑looking at * * * noun : the glance of a person that is believed to be capable of inflicting injury many people are reputed to … cause harm by staring …   Useful english dictionary

  • evil eye — 1) N SING: the N Some people believe that the evil eye is a magical power to cast a spell on someone or something by looking at them, so that bad things happen to them. 2) N SING: usu the N If someone gives you the evil eye, they look at you in… …   English dictionary

  • evil eye —    The belief that certain people can inflict disease or death simply by a glance was accepted by the educated throughout medieval and Elizabethan times, as it had been by Pliny and other classical authorities. Scientists held that vision was an… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • evil eye — Synonyms and related words: Jonah, anathema, bad blood, bad influence, bad temper, bad will, ban, bedroom eyes, blasphemy, blighting glance, cantrip, charm, come hither look, commination, curse, damnation, denunciation, enchantment, evil… …   Moby Thesaurus

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