Look vs. Stare — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 30, 2023
Look refers to directing one's gaze, while Stare means to gaze fixedly and intently, often with wide-open eyes.
Difference Between Look and Stare
Table of Contents
Look implies directing one's attention to something by turning the eyes to it, while Stare emphasizes a prolonged, often unblinking gaze.
To Look is a general term that means to use one's vision or to direct the eyes towards something, but to Stare denotes a more intense, longer, and sometimes impolite form of looking.
When we Look at something, it can be a casual or fleeting action; in contrast, when we Stare, the action is sustained and often indicates deep interest, surprise, or discomfort.
You might Look around a room to find a friend, but if you Stare at someone, it might be considered rude or intrusive.
While Look can be versatile, used in various contexts to denote seeing, considering, or appearing, Stare specifically implies a fixed and intense gaze.
General act of seeing or directing gaze
Intense, often prolonged gaze
Typically short or unspecified
Can be seen as rude or intrusive
Verb (can also be a noun, e.g., "a look")
Verb (can also be a noun, e.g., "a stare")
"Look at that bird."
"Why did you stare at me?"
Compare with Definitions
To seem or appear to be.
You look tired.
To be very noticeable.
The mistake on the poster stares out at me.
To face or have a view in a specified direction.
The cabin looks over the valley.
To stand out prominently.
His blue tie stared against his white shirt.
An act of directing one's gaze.
He gave the painting a quick look.
An act of continuous looking.
His blank stare gave nothing away.
To employ one's sight, especially in a given direction or on a given object
Looking out the window.
Looked at the floor.
To look with a feeling of curiosity or disbelief.
They stared in wonder at the fireworks.
We looked all afternoon but could not find it.
To gaze fixedly and intently, especially with wide-open eyes.
She stared at the strange object in the sky.
To turn one's glance or gaze
Looked to the right.
Look fixedly or vacantly at someone or something with one's eyes wide open
Robyn sat staring into space, her mind numb
He stared at her in amazement
To turn one's attention; attend
Looked to his neglected guitar during vacation.
Looked at the evidence.
A long fixed or vacant look
She gave him a cold stare
To turn one's expectations
Looked to us for a solution.
To look directly, fixedly, or vacantly, often with a wide-eyed gaze.
To seem or appear to be
To look at directly and fixedly
Stared him in the eyes.
To face in a specified direction
The cottage looks on the river.
An intent gaze.
To turn one's eyes on
Looked him in the eye.
To look fixedly (at something).
To convey by one's expression
Looked annoyance at the judge.
Looked his devotion to me.
(transitive) To influence in some way by looking fixedly.
To stare a timid person into submission
To have an appearance of conformity with
He looks his age. She dressed up to look the part.
(intransitive) To be very conspicuous on account of size, prominence, colour, or brilliancy.
Staring windows or colours
To appear to be
Looked the fool in one version of the story.
To stand out; to project; to bristle.
The act or instance of looking
I took just one look and I was sure.
A persistent gaze.
The stares of astonished passers-by
A gaze or glance expressive of something
Gave her a mournful look.
Appearance or aspect
A look of great age.
Looks Physical appearance, especially when pleasing.
The act of staring; a fixed look with eyes wide open.
A distinctive, unified manner of dress or fashion
The preferred look for this fall.
To look with fixed eyes wide open, as through fear, wonder, surprise, impudence, etc.; to fasten an earnest and prolonged gaze on some object.
For ever upon the ground I see thee stare.
Look not big, nor stamp, nor stare, nor fret.
To try to see, to pay attention to with one’s eyes.
To be very conspicuous on account of size, prominence, color, or brilliancy; as, staring windows or colors.
(intransitive) As an intransitive verb, often with "at".
They kept looking at me.
Don’t look in the closet.
To stand out; to project; to bristle.
Makest my blood cold, and my hair to stare.
Take off all the staring straws and jags in the hive.
As a transitive verb, often in the relative clause as direct object.}}
Look what you did to him!
Look who's back!
To look earnestly at; to gaze at.
I will stare him out of his wits.
To appear, to seem.
It looks as if it’s going to rain soon.
Our new boss looks to be a lot more friendly.
A fixed look with eyes open wide
(copulative) To give an appearance of being.
That painting looks nice.
Look at with fixed eyes;
The students stared at the teacher with amazement
To search for, to try to find.
Fixate one's eyes;
The ancestor in the painting is staring down menacingly
To face or present a view.
The hotel looks over the valleys of the HinduKush.
To expect or anticipate.
I look to each hour for my lover’s arrival.
(transitive) To express or manifest by a look.
To make sure of, to see to.
To show oneself in looking.
Look out of the window [i.e. lean out] while I speak to you.
To look at; to turn the eyes toward.
To seek; to search for.
To influence, overawe, or subdue by looks or presence.
To look down opposition
(baseball) To look at a pitch as a batter without swinging at it.
The fastball caught him looking.
Clem Labine struck Mays out looking at his last at bat.
It's unusual for Mays to strike out looking. He usually takes a cut at it.
Look, I'm going to explain what to do, so you have to listen closely.
The action of looking; an attempt to see.
Let’s have a look under the hood of the car.
(often plural) Physical appearance, visual impression.
She got her mother’s looks.
I don’t like the look of the new design.
A facial expression.
He gave me a dirty look.
If looks could kill ...
To direct the eyes for the purpose of seeing something; to direct the eyes toward an object; to observe with the eyes while keeping them directed; - with various prepositions, often in a special or figurative sense. See Phrases below.
To direct the attention (to something); to consider; to examine; as, to look at an action.
To seem; to appear; to have a particular appearance; as, the patient looks better; the clouds look rainy.
It would look more like vanity than gratitude.
Observe how such a practice looks in another person.
To have a particular direction or situation; to face; to front.
The inner gate that looketh to north.
The east gate . . . which looketh eastward.
In the imperative: see; behold; take notice; take care; observe; - used to call attention.
Look, how much we thus expel of sin, so much we expel of virtue.
Look that ye bind them fast.
Look if it be my daughter.
To show one's self in looking, as by leaning out of a window; as, look out of the window while I speak to you. Sometimes used figuratively.
My toes look through the overleather.
To await the appearance of anything; to expect; to anticipate.
Looking each hour into death's mouth to fall.
Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.
My subject does not oblige me to look after the water, or point forth the place where to it is now retreated.
The bishops thereat repined, and looked black.
Her friends would look on her the worse.
I looked on Virgil as a succinct, majestic writer.
I'll be a candleholder, and look on.
To look at; to turn the eyes toward.
To seek; to search for.
Looking my love, I go from place to place.
To influence, overawe, or subdue by looks or presence as, to look down opposition.
A spirit fit to start into an empire,And look the world to law.
To express or manifest by a look.
Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again.
The act of looking; a glance; a sight; a view; - often in certain phrases; as, to have, get, take, throw, or cast, a look.
Threw many a northward look to see his fatherBring up his powers; but he did long in vain.
Expression of the eyes and face; manner; as, a proud or defiant look.
Up ! up! my friends, and clear your looks.
Appearance; aspect; as, the house has a gloomy look; the affair has a bad look.
Pain, disgrace, and poverty have frighted looks.
There was something that reminded me of Dante's Hell in the look of this.
The expression on a person's face;
A sad expression
A look of triumph
An angry face
The act of directing the eyes toward something and perceiving it visually;
He went out to have a look
His look was fixed on her eyes
He gave it a good looking at
His camera does his looking for him
I don't like the looks of this place
The general atmosphere of a place or situation and the effect that it has on people;
The feel of the city excited him
A clergyman improved the tone of the meeting
It had the smell of treason
Perceive with attention; direct one's gaze towards;
She looked over the expanse of land
Look at your child!
Look--a deer in the backyard!
Give a certain impression or have a certain outward aspect;
She seems to be sleeping
This appears to be a very difficult problem
This project looks fishy
They appeared like people who had not eaten or slept for a long time
Have a certain outward or facial expression;
How does she look?
The child looks unhappy
She looked pale after the surgery
Search or seek;
We looked all day and finally found the child in the forest
Look elsewhere for the perfect gift!
Be oriented in a certain direction, often with respect to another reference point; be opposite to;
The house looks north
My backyard look onto the pond
The building faces the park
Take charge of or deal with;
Could you see about lunch?
I must attend to this matter
She took care of this business
Convey by one's expression;
She looked her devotion to me
Look forward to the probable occurrence of;
We were expecting a visit from our relatives
She is looking to a promotion
He is waiting to be drafted
Accord in appearance with;
You don't look your age!
Have faith or confidence in;
You can count on me to help you any time
Look to your friends for support
You can bet on that!
Depend on your family in times of crisis
To direct one's gaze towards something.
Look at the rainbow!
To seek or search for by turning one's eyes in various directions.
I looked for my keys everywhere.
What does "Look" mean?
"Look" refers to directing one's gaze or attention to something.
Can "Look" be used as a noun?
Yes, e.g., "She gave him a stern look."
Can "Look" also refer to appearance?
Yes, e.g., "You look good today."
Can "Look" be used directionally?
Yes, e.g., "Look to your left."
Can animals "Stare"?
Yes, animals can also fix their gaze intently on something.
Does "Look" always imply seeing clearly?
No, one can look in a direction without clearly seeing everything.
Can "Stare" mean something stands out?
Yes, e.g., "The error stares out from the page."
Is "Stare" a more intense form of "Look"?
Yes, "Stare" is a prolonged and often intense gaze.
Is it always rude to "Stare"?
Not always, but in many cultures, staring can be considered impolite.
How is "Stare" different from a glance?
A "Stare" is longer and more fixed, while a glance is brief.
How can "Stare" be used in a sentence?
"He stared at the painting for hours."
Can "Look" mean to search for something?
Yes, e.g., "Look for the signs."
Is "Look" more versatile than "Stare"?
Yes, "Look" has broader uses, while "Stare" is more specific to intense gazing.
Is "Staring" always done with wide-open eyes?
Typically, yes. It's an intense form of looking.
Does "Look" have multiple meanings?
Yes, it can mean to gaze, appear, face, or search, among others.
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Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.