Definition of stare in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /stɛː/


[no object]
1Look fixedly or vacantly at someone or something with one’s eyes wide open: he stared at her in amazement Robyn sat staring into space, her mind numb
More example sentences
  • The rest of us sat staring into space, apparently waiting for an answer to arrive like a visitor from the spirit world.
  • I just couldn't muster the willpower to finish them off and was just sat staring into space.
  • This meant that I had low energy and I tended to sit and stare into space.
gaze, gape, goggle, gawk, glare, ogle, leer, peer, look fixedly, look vacantly;
study, survey, observe, watch closely, eyeball, outstare
informal rubberneck
British informal gawp
1.1(Of a person’s eyes) be wide open, with a fixed or vacant expression: her grey eyes stared back at him
More example sentences
  • They were like the zombies of paradise, their mouths hanging open, their eyes staring up at the screen.
  • His fists pumped the air, wide eyes staring at the night sky that he had thought he would never see again.
  • Her mask had gone and her eyes were staring, wide with obvious panic but unseeing.
1.2 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Be unpleasantly prominent or striking: the obituaries stared out at us
More example sentences
  • He finally turned his gaze to her, his glare seeming to stare straight into her soul.
  • Just a few feet off the starboard bow, the bloated carcass of a full-grown steer stared back at us.


A long fixed or vacant look: she gave him a cold stare
More example sentences
  • He gave me a cold stare and returned his attention to his girlfriend.
  • He returned his cold stare to the carefree couple below and fantasized about his victory.
  • She gazed at him in wonder, and he returned her stare with a look of friendly curiosity.



be staring one in the face

Be glaringly apparent or obvious: the answer had been staring him in the face
More example sentences
  • But sometimes you don't need to ask questions because the answer is staring you in the face.
  • The answer is staring us in the face and organisations need to get on and do something about it.
  • I know that the answer is staring me in the face, I just can't see it.
be obvious, be clear, be plain, be plain to see, be crystal clear, be evident, be apparent, be manifest, be patent, be conspicuous, be prominent, be transparent, be clear-cut, be palpable, be unmistakable, be indisputable, be self-evident, be undeniable, be as plain as a pikestaff, be writ large, be written all over one, be as clear as day, be blinding, be inescapable
informal be as plain as the nose on one's face, be standing/sticking out like a sore thumb, be standing/sticking out a mile, be right under one's nose

be staring something in the face

Be on the verge of defeat, death, or another unpleasant fate: Everton were staring defeat in the face
More example sentences
  • When Steve Prescott scored his second just after the break Salford were staring a hefty defeat in the face.
  • Football League oblivion is staring the club in the face.
  • Just four months ago, the LDP was staring an electoral disaster in the face.

stare someone in the eye (or face)

Look fixedly or boldly at someone: I stared him straight in the eye but he didn’t recognize me
More example sentences
  • The reporter was stunned by an official staring him in the eye and telling a straight lie.
  • It makes you work - the bad review staring you in the face.
  • It's logical not to want a soulless existence in an air-conditioned office, with a PC staring you in the face and stack of returns to input.

Phrasal verbs

stare someone out (or down)

Look fixedly at someone, typically in a hostile or intimidating way, until they feel forced to look away: Vi hissed, meeting his gaze, preparing to stare him out
More example sentences
  • It quickly transpires that he believed my mate was ‘staring him out’ from across the pub and he wasn't happy about it.
  • The vociferousness of his appeal showed he felt that it should have been at least a spot kick, but the linesman, on whom he vented the venom, stared him out.
  • She was annoying, it's true, but this guy kept looking up from his book and staring at her the way people stare you out in West London before planting a knife in you.



Pronunciation: /ˈstɛːrə/
Example sentences
  • Johansson loves the fact that she's now someone others stare at because she's a self-confessed starer.
  • The stare-down occurs if the said starer just feels the other girl is prettier.
  • Sheldrake suggests that the two starers may have differed in their beliefs concerning the ability to detect unseen staring.


Old English starian, of Germanic origin, from a base meaning 'be rigid'.

Words that rhyme with stare

affair, affaire, air, Altair, Althusser, Anvers, Apollinaire, Astaire, aware, Ayer, Ayr, bare, bear, bêche-de-mer, beware, billionaire, Blair, blare, Bonaire, cafetière, care, chair, chargé d'affaires, chemin de fer, Cher, Clair, Claire, Clare, commissionaire, compare, concessionaire, cordon sanitaire, couvert, Daguerre, dare, debonair, declare, derrière, despair, doctrinaire, éclair, e'er, elsewhere, ensnare, ere, extraordinaire, Eyre, fair, fare, fayre, Finisterre, flair, flare, Folies-Bergère, forbear, forswear, foursquare, glair, glare, hair, hare, heir, Herr, impair, jardinière, Khmer, Kildare, La Bruyère, lair, laissez-faire, legionnaire, luminaire, mal de mer, mare, mayor, meunière, mid-air, millionaire, misère, Mon-Khmer, multimillionaire, ne'er, Niger, nom de guerre, outstare, outwear, pair, pare, parterre, pear, père, pied-à-terre, Pierre, plein-air, prayer, questionnaire, rare, ready-to-wear, rivière, Rosslare, Santander, savoir faire, scare, secretaire, share, snare, solitaire, Soufrière, spare, square, stair, surface-to-air, swear, Tailleferre, tare, tear, their, there, they're, vin ordinaire, Voltaire, ware, wear, Weston-super-Mare, where, yeah

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: stare

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.