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Context:

  1. 他这个人就是没有眼力见,不会来事,你别跟他一般见识
  2. 八戒鸡贼不言语,沙和尚又没有眼力见,只有猴子每天劝唐僧下来走走。
  3. 他也是有点眼力见的,面前的两个人这副谈话的模样,一看就知道是在聊正事,他现在应该做的是马上开溜,最好避开远远的。
  4. 妻子忽然抱怨道:“你说你,都这岁数了,还这么没有眼力见儿。天都凉下来了,空调用不上了,还不把电源关上。”啥也别说了……
  5. 李总召集聊友聚会,闲扯间说起公司新来的一位小伙子,人精神嘴抹蜜还特有眼力见儿。以为接下来会涌出一串赞赏和培养之类的感叹……
  6. 吴生很快赶了过来,看到路长景沉沉的脸色时冒出一身冷汗。什么日子不好,这些人真是没眼力见,非得挑这个时候来……

5 Answers 5

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眼力 = eye strength / force, does not mean you have 20-20, perfect vision / eyesight.

So, 眼力见 means you have the ability to "see clearly" a particular interactive situation, assess the circumstances and act in a way which is commensurate.

In other words, have a good sense of judgment and act accordingly.

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For the Chinese explanation, here comes the answer from Baidu :

眼力见——见机行事的能力,懂得察言观色,见机行事,不招人烦。

If you don't understand it, that's OK, I will try to explain it in English.

Generally, 眼力见 means a person knows what he should do or what he should not do in some specific occassions. For example, when having dinners with the leaders, you should propose a toast (敬酒) to show the respect for the leaders, then the leaders would think you are 有眼力见的

In some occasions in China, if we want or don't want somebody to do something (usually unpleasant, disturbing things), we often don't directly told the person "you should (not) do like that...", we hope that they can find out what they should do by themselves. Overtime, this behavior results some potential rules for people with certain relationship, just like you have mentioned, 下属和李总,丈夫和妻子,八戒和沙和尚...

眼力见 is not a written language in Chinese, instead, we often use it orally.

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没有眼力见 - insensitive to one's surroundings or the other person's needs.

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I prefer that this word is 眼力劲儿, which is a dialect of the northern provinces. It is often used by parents to tell their kits to be polite and aware of doing things. There is nothing to do with the eyes (眼) or vision (眼力) or (视力). For example,

妈妈对女儿说,“客人来了有点儿眼力劲儿,倒个茶呀什么的”。= The mother said to her daughter, "Would you please be polite to our guests? Just preparing some tea for them".

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眼力見 literally means pay attention to your situation/circumstance. some simple examples of its implied use make its meaning very clear hopefully:

what was the childrens circumstance? they were in class so they should not be yelling or running around, its the wrong situation for that.

what was our situation? we were in the public library, so it was the correct circumstance to use headphones to listen to music and not play it out loud.

the circumstance was a big family gathering, so it was wrong for him to just start screaming at his sister.

the circumstance was grandpas birthday, so it was really good that he came super early to play chess and chat with his grandpa.


others have posted comments mentioning unspoken circumstances and expectations that can exist in chinese culture on a social level; such as when to propose a toast or be forced to accept a drink out of politeness, when to let the other person buy the meal or genuinely insist you pay cause they shouldn't actually pay. Those things do have standards but the rules are dead and people are alive or so they say-- as you become more familiar with chinese social interactions it'll be more intuitive.

Hopefully this helps you connect the meaning of the phhrase literally with its implied meaning of understanding a situation.

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