Stories behind Words: eye of the tiger

Posted by on May 08, 2013

www.wordle.netAs non-academic and uncool as it may sound and after a few hour glasses of thought, my chosen phrase is going to have to be eye of the tiger.

It has become a phrase that is so frequently used in the confines of my immediate family that it’s simply become part of the furniture, part of our natural lexicon, part of the fabric of how we all communicate. Like a family cat that lives far beyond its life expectancy, eye of the tiger’seems to have unexpectedly been kept alive at every opportune moment. Be it job interviews, weddings, gigs, presentations, house offers, court cases, funeral eulogies, it just seems to come out instinctively in text messages, emails, voicemails and even in person.

My old man was a huge fan of the Rocky films and he tried his best to emulate the look. He bought a grey all-in-one tracksuit and would run around the house shouting ‘Adrien’. The only problem was my Dad was and still is a rather petite man. He’s more Leonard Cohen than Silvester Stallone but with a small sweat patch just above his chest he was able to dream …

It was this love of the Rocky films that got my Dad using this phrase and for my brother, sister and I it would be said to us before school sports matches and exams. It is a phrase we remember from our childhood that has become synonymous with a Dad who was always there at every juncture in our life. To us it meant: have no fear and go for it with everything you have. Somehow that phrase has become a family heirloom and although as corny as can be, it represents how much we all love each other!

About Luke Vyner
Luke Vyner is a Macmillan author and language teacher. He also runs an audio production and course design company, London Language Experience. His approach to teaching and writing is strongly influenced by a background in theatre and song writing. With interests in literature, cinematic audio, storytelling and drama techniques, Luke strives to make his educational work contemporary, creative and engaging.

Browse the archive of Stories behind Words and get in touch if you’d like to share your story. We’d love to hear from you!

Comments (3)
  • What a lovely tribute! My family doesn’t use the phrase much, but we got a kick out of Survivor’s spoof of their song “Eye of the Tiger” in this Starbuck’s commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14qeu7JRwt0

    My brother’s name is Glen, so if we want to get his attention, we can always sing, “Glen! Glen Glen Glen!” And his best friend was Roy, the name of the person addressed at the end of the commercial.

    Thanks for the smile!

    Posted by Joanne Mason / About English Idioms on 8th May, 2013
  • Thanks for the comment Joanne. Now wishing I had a friend or relative called Glen to sing that to

    Thanks for the smile!

    Luke :-)

    Posted by Luke on 10th May, 2013
  • [...] Macmillan Dictionary blog, Luke Vyner told the story behind the phrase, eye of the tiger, and Stan Carey explored LOL slash grammar. At Merriam-Webster’s blog, Emily Brewster also looked [...]

    Posted by This Week’s Language Blog Roundup: The Great Gatsby, really old words, Dothraki | Wordnik on 10th May, 2013
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