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I am reading Alexander Dumas' “La Reine Margot” and came across this phrase:

Le roi de Navarre ne voit rien de cela car, de son côté, il mange des yeux Madame de Sauve…

In the context, it seems like it would mean that the king is being stared at by Madame de Sauve, but I'm not completely sure.

  • The meaning is pretty much equivalent to “he only has eyes for her”. – Gilles Nov 11 '12 at 18:59
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    But this would be "il n'a d'yeux que pour elle", not quite the same eagerness or intensity. – Stéphane Gimenez Nov 11 '12 at 22:59
  • You say "it seems like it would mean that the king is being stared at by Madame de Sauve", but it is the opposite : "il[he] mange des yeux [is "eating" her using only his eyes] Madame de Sayve [=designates the person he is looking at]" ("eat her with his eyes", here, is to be taken in a "find her very beautilful or attractive/wanting to make love to her/devoring passion towards her" sense.). The whole sentence means : The King of Navarre doesn't see anything of [whatever scene was just described before] because he is feverishly staring at Madame de Sauve – Olivier Dulac Dec 4 '17 at 12:00
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Literally, the king eats Madame de Sauve with his eyes. That's an idiom meaning he stares at her, pleasingly, hungeringly, maybe even, to stay in the “edible” domain.

Depending on the context, this can often have heavy implications (maybe with the eyes is enough for now, and later on you know what I mean).

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I'll throw, adding to Gildas' comment, that the idiom can be varied a lot by replacing manger. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if dévorer des yeux was more common.

The somewhat related idiom manger avec les yeux is fairly common, referring to how food's aspect influences the consumer.

  • This was very helpful, but I feel like Gildas more directly answered my question. – pasawaya Nov 11 '12 at 18:47
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He is starring at her because he finds her attractive, sexy.

As Circeux mentioned, "dévorer" is more common now: "dévorer des yeux".

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