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What Does "Blind as a Bat" Mean?

Helen Akers
Updated May 23, 2024
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"Blind as a bat" is a reference to someone not being able to see well. The meaning may be either literal or metaphorical — referring to an actual physical environment or a situation. As an idiom, "blind as a bat" could refer to a person's inability to see another individual or relationship clearly.

The saying has been around for centuries. It is considered to be one of the older English sayings. Many use it in a joking manner to refer to someone who can't see clearly without glasses. As an interesting side fact, bats are not fully blind. While their daytime eyesight is considered to be subpar, they are able to see better at night.

It is during the daytime that most bats have trouble seeing objects clearly. They tend to be nocturnal animals and use their sense of hearing to navigate environments. the expression could be used to describe someone who is clumsy or navigates himself poorly through physical settings.

Those who suddenly experience degeneration in their vision capabilities might describe themselves as being "blind as a bat." It is often used in a sarcastic manner to poke fun at the situation. Some use the expression to express humor about the aging process or make light of having to get prescription glasses.

For example, an individual who wears bifocals may joke about his vision by stating that he is unable to locate items in a room because he is "blind as a bat." Others may poke fun at their ability to see signs or locate landmarks while driving. Some people might use the expression to indicate that they are not very observant of their environments, missing things that are right in front of them.

"Blind as a bat" might also refer to a person's metaphorical blindness when it comes to negative traits and characteristics in others. When someone enters into a friendship or romantic relationship with another person, he may only notice the qualities that he wants to see. Positive or common qualities may "blind" him to the other person's true nature and intent. Others who observe the relationship and can “see” traits from an unbiased perspective may use the saying.

Some people may not see situations clearly. For example, they may have unrealistic expectations when it comes to securing a job after graduation from a degree program with no experience. This is a type of "blindness" that others may describe by using the idiom. Individuals may also misjudge their own capabilities and skills and be unable to "see" themselves clearly.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Helen Akers
By Helen Akers
Helen Akers, a talented writer with a passion for making a difference, brings a unique perspective to her work. With a background in creative writing, she crafts compelling stories and content to inspire and challenge readers, showcasing her commitment to qualitative impact and service to others.
Discussion Comments
By Reminiscence — On Nov 04, 2014

@RocketLanch8- My vision's not nearly that bad, but I do need to wear glasses with strong lenses in order to read. My wife put on my glasses one night and said "You must be blind as a bat!". I said I could see fine at a distance, and I only need them to read. When I think of being "as blind as a bat", I picture not getting any sort of light cues at all. I can see the book in my hand, but I can't get the letters into focus without help. That's not really the same as being blind.

By RocketLanch8 — On Nov 03, 2014

If I ever take off my glasses, I really am blind as a bat. When I was in Driver's Ed in high school, the instructor asked me to take off my glasses and stand at the back of the room. He told me to walk towards the blackboard and stop when I could read a set of letters clearly. I had to get about a foot away from the board before I could decipher them.

I told the instructor that I was as blind as a bat, and he said he only asked me to help prove a point. He told the class that there were drivers out there who really couldn't drive without their glasses, so we were supposed to remember that if we had our own restrictive drivers' licenses.

Helen Akers
Helen Akers
Helen Akers, a talented writer with a passion for making a difference, brings a unique perspective to her work. With a...
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