Originally meaning the central aperture of theeye. Figuratively it is something, or more usually someone, cherished above others.
The phrase is exceedingly old and firstappears in Old English in a work attributed to King Aelfred (the Great)of Wessex, AD 885, entitled ‘ Gregory’s Pastoral care’. The earliestrecorded use in modern English is in Sir Walter Scott’s ‘OldMortality’, 1816:
“Poor Richard was to me as an eldest son, the apple of my eye.”
It also appears in the Bible – Deuteronomy 32:10:
He found him in a desert land,and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructedhim, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
and Zechariah 2:8:
For thus saith the LORD ofhosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiledyou: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.
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