A quick question

Just a quick question, to ask anyone who might be listening out there…

Why do people insist on using “orbs” when they mean eyes? No, really, please explain this to me. I don’t get it. I’ve seen this come up more and more in prose lately – in submissions, in manuscripts we’ve acquired that are otherwise stunning, and in novels published by other presses, as well as in short stories, fanfic, etc.

It never fails to cheese me off, either. They’re eyes, people. It’s a perfectly good word. Use it.


9 Responses to “A quick question”

  1. Chrysoula Tzavelas December 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    ‘Cause we’re also taught that reusing a word multiple times in a short timespan is problematic.

    I mean… I don’t think I use ‘orbs’, unless I’m referring to free-floating eyes, or maybe eyes on tentacles. But that’s generally the reason for using silly not-quite-synonyms.

    “Her violet orbs glistened, while the twin globes of her bosom heaved.”

  2. Candlemark & Gleam December 30, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    This is true, but at the same time, “orbs” just sounds silly, particularly if you’re NOT trying to avoid repeating the same term!

    And I’ve always preferred “twin jewelled melons” for bosoms. 😉

  3. Patti December 31, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    I have never done that, I’m glad to say. Just wish there were more synonyms for ‘docent’. 😉

  4. Candlemark & Gleam December 31, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    You and your highly specific character career choices!

  5. Janniverse January 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    “Orbs” is more inclined to make me think of some sort of mystical object than “eyes.” Or testicles.

  6. Candlemark & Gleam January 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    You know that’s what I’m going to be envisioning when I read that now…and…oh god, I’m going to be giggling and wincing at the same time.

  7. Merrian January 20, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    1. avoiding repetitive use of ‘eyes’
    2. eyeballs are round like globes which = orbs
    3. assume it is one of those words/cliches that have become detached from its original poetic use by poets like Milton, that is we have read it often enough that it seems like a word to use

    I can see why people do it even if I don’t think it is a word description that works well in our current day and age

  8. Candlemark & Gleam January 20, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Makes total sense…although it doesn’t mean I have to like it!


  1. Reading Rage Tuesday: Set alight, char, sear, scorch, and burn those thesauruses. | Insatiable Booksluts - March 27, 2012

    […] the writer’s arsenal. The thesaurus, though, can be used for evil instead of good. When I was reading Kate’s post about using “orbs” (a.k.a., tarted-up word wearing cheap lipstick and hooker boots) vs. […]

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