What Does Keep Your Eyes Peeled Mean?

Keep Your Eyes Peeled Meaning

Definition: To watch carefully for something with one’s eyes open wide.

Origin of Keep Your Eyes Peeled

This expression and its variant keep your eyes skinned date back to sometime in the first half of the 1800s.

To skin something and to peel something mean the same thing, although to skin is usually used for animals and to peel is usually used for fruit. Therefore, to keep your eyes peeled or skinned means to keep them without the skin over them (the eyelids). In other words, you keep them open.

Around the year 1960, both idioms were still popular. After that, keep your eyes skinned declined in usage whereas keep your eyes peeled rose.

Examples of Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Keeping eyes peeledHere is an example of two college friends who are discussing the end of a class project on which they have been working using the idiom.

Karl: Yes! We’re finally done with this Greece project! I can’t believe all our hard work is finally saved on my flash drive. Thanks for offering your house as a place to work on this.

Frank: You’re welcome. And I know; we are finally done! Keep that zip file in a safe place so we don’t lose it.

Karl: Hmmm. Now that you mention it, I can’t find it.

Frank: Oh no! We’re going to have to start all over!

Karl: No, no. Don’t worry. I saved it online as a backup. But I’d still like to find my flash drive. I have to go, but keep your eyes peeled for that flash drive.

keep an eye peeledIn this example, two friends discuss the possibility of pickpockets robbing them while at a crowded music festival.

Lily: I’m having so much fun!

Grace: Stop having so much fun, and start being more careful.

Lily: Careful? For what? We’re at a concert. It’s supposed to be fun!

Grace: No, it’s an opportunity for pickpockets to steal your phone and wallet. You shouldn’t even have brought those here with you!

Lily: I’m not worried about that.

Grace: I’m telling you, you’d better keep your eyes peeled for thieves or you could be their next target!

More Examples

In the below excerpt, the newspaper uses the expression in order to tell readers to watch carefully for an interesting part of a movie.

  • If you never caught that, keep your eyes peeled next time you screen the 1939 film. –New York Daily News

In this excerpt, the newspaper uses the idiom in order to tell consumers to be vigilant for extra fees when making a rental.

  • These fees apply when you rent a house on HomeAway, VRBO or any of the other rental sites. Sometimes they also charge booking fees, so keep your eyes peeled. –Orange County Register


The phrase keep your eyes peeled acts as a warning or request for someone to be vigilant, specifically by using their vision to be aware of what is around him or her.