So I'm a bit confused because I'm still learning Japanese, and I have learned there are shortened words or small phrases that take a lot more to say in English, so I was wondering if there is an actual saying in Japanese for when someone's eyes are wide open in surprise. I used google translate, which I don't fully trust so it's not an official reference, but I got a very literal answer so I'm wondering if that would be preferred.

Google Translate:

English: I open my eyes wide in surprise
Japanese: 私{わたし}は驚{おどろ}いて私{わたし}の目{め}を広{ひろ}く開{ひら}きます

I don't trust this answer of course, so I usually use the Japanese Dictionary, Jisho.org, as a more trustworthy source, and it shows a phrase that seems to be what I'm looking for:

目{め}を見{み}張{は}る/me o miharu 

(Link: https://jisho.org/word/目を見張る)

So would it be right to try and say the sentence (sounds like a fragment in English, but it's for a song), "I open my eyes wide in surprise" like this:


PS: Also, the phrase, "I open my eyes wide in surprise", is meant to mean something more like the person is doing the action, thus, the te-form of the phrase in Japanese. Sorry for the long question, and hope it wasn't too crazy, thanks!

  • 1
    note that jisho.org uses EDICT, which is a free dictionary compiled by volunteers. In most cases it's okay but I'd not rely on it 100%. If you want a really "trustworthy source", I'd recommend a commercial dictionary, maybe even a monolingual one. See this post for some recommendations. Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 8:32

2 Answers 2


There are a few ways to say this, and I can't guarantee I'll be of much help without knowing the full context of the song, but I can try my best. I'll assume there's a line that follows it, and add the romaji assuming someone who's not a native speaker will be singing this (?) and would like to hear how it sounds:

[驚いて]目を丸くして [odoroite] me wo maruku shite

lit. "My eyes go round with surprise"

[驚きに]目を見開いて [odoroki ni] me wo mihiraite lit. "My eyes widened with surprise" (a bit more fancy)

[びっくりして]目を見開いて [bikkuri shite] me wo mihiraite lit. "Startled, my eyes widened" (this sounds the best to me personally in Japanese)

It is possibly less direct, though not necessarily better (i.e. more 'Japanese') to omit the 'surprised' in the lines I provided, so feel free to remove the words in the brackets if that's your thing.

The example you provided (私は目を見張っている) is definitely fine too, though it's not something I personally see used a ton in casual conversation; in a song it's perfectly fine, with the exception of dropping the は or even the entire 私は, and changing the いる to て, depending on context.

Hope this helps.

  • The line that comes after would be, "I found a book in my bag not owned by me" but I haven't translated it yet to Japanese, although I believe the answer you gave was great anyway. Thanks! Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 6:25
  • Also, this is a bit off-topic, but is it possible you could explain in more clarity how を would be used in a sentence and what for? I have tried to search for some answers to this, but I still don't understand the explanation, and I suspect it's because there really isn't an English equivalent. Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 6:27
  • を would be used to denote, generally, the subject of a sentence - something that has an action being performed to it. In this case, the subject would be 目, or the eyes. The distinctions made between the other particles, the most common of which are は and が, are nebulous and a bit difficult to explain concisely, but generally を indicates the subject of a sentence. Example: "Pet a cat." 猫[を]撫でる In this sentence, the cat is the object with an action being performed to it (pet). Feel free to ask more - I can explain to the best of my ability.
    – kiku
    Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 6:58
  • I think I'm starting to get it, thanks. So, for example, would this make sense? Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 7:07
  • 野球を充てる((I) hit the baseball) Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 7:13

I've seen theses expressions in manga/light novels, so not sure if they are used much in real life:

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