Definitions

turns blind eye

Turning a blind eye

The idiom turning a blind eye is used to describe the process of ignoring unpopular orders or inconvenient facts or activities.

The phrase to turn a blind eye is attributed to an incident in the life of Admiral Horatio Nelson.

Nelson was blinded in one eye early in his Royal Navy career. In 1801, during the Battle of Copenhagen cautious Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, in overall command of the British forces, ordered Nelson's forces to withdraw. Naval orders were transmitted via a system of signal flags at that time. When this order was drawn to the more aggressive Nelson's attention, he lifted his telescope up to his blind eye, said he saw no signal, and ordered his forces to continue to press home the attack.

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