Alternative Meanings for Names of Sense Organs

By Mark Nichol

The words for body parts that enable us to perceive stimuli have, sensibly, been applied to other meanings that are extensions of the original connotations. Here are additional meanings of ear, eye, nose, skin, and tongue.

Ear
An ear is an earlike part of an object or a body or a plant. It also means “sensitivity to pitch and tone of music or melody or rhythm of speaking,” and it’s a figurative term for a listener or the attention or awareness a listener offers.

Eye
This word refers to something resembling an eye in appearance or function. It might also denote a glance or a look, or close attention or scrutiny, as well as judgment or point of view or good eyesight or discernment. Eye also refers to the direction from which wind blows or the center of a storm.

Nose
Nose is employed to mean “the sense of smell,” or to refer to the aroma or bouquet of something. It also applies, usually in the adjectival form nosy, to curiosity or meddling, though, more positively, one might be said to have a nose, or a knack for comprehending or finding, for something. Also, the forward or projecting end of a tool or any object is frequently referred to as its nose.

Skin
The covering of a piece of fruit or a seed is called the skin, and any casing or sheathing, or a film or a similar layer, is often referred to as such. It also refers to well-being (“Save your skin!”) or to one’s self (“She’s comfortable in her own skin”).

Tongue
Tongue applies to the power of communication, or to language itself. The word also describes the quality of the tone of something said, or the intention or sense of the message (as when describing someone as having a sharp tongue). In plural form, it refers to meaningless utterances, usually in the context of religious ecstasy (“speaking in tongues”); tongue also denotes the cry of a hound during a hunt, or a similar sound.

It also applies to a narrow projection of an object or of land, or to an object resembling a tongue in form, a projecting edge on a board designed to be inserted into a groove on an edge of an other board (this system of construction is called tongue-and-groove), or a flame.

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1 Response to “Alternative Meanings for Names of Sense Organs”

  • Silvia G. Martínez

    Mark, is it too much to ask you please a list of teeth-related illnesses? Parts of mouth would also be very appreciated.

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