Skip to main content
Select Source:

private eye

private eye a private detective. The term is first recorded in a story (1938) by Raymond Chandler. It has been suggested that the origin of the expression was the American detective agency founded by Allan Pinkerton; their motto (c.1855) was ‘We never sleep’, and the agency was informally known as ‘The Eye’.

Private Eye is the title of a British satirical magazine, founded in 1962; some of its ironical euphemisms, such as Ugandan affairs and tired and emotional, have passed into the language.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"private eye." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"private eye." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/private-eye

"private eye." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/private-eye

private eye

pri·vate eye • n. inf. a private investigator.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"private eye." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"private eye." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/private-eye-0

"private eye." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/private-eye-0