Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Looking and Seeing

 Looking vs Seeing

A lot of things go on inside our minds every day. We often tend to overlook the meaning of the words we use and say which makes it quite easy to mix them up. This is especially true with terms that have similar meanings like ‘looking’ and ‘seeing.’ Both involve using the eyes and sense of sight, but upon closer examination it will reveal what makes one different from the other.

The first thing that should be looked at when identifying discrepancies in words is how they are defined. Definitions are exact, and no two things can be defined the same way. There’s always bound to be some features that set one object from another, and it’s the same thing for ‘looking’ and ‘seeing.’

‘Looking’ is derived from the word ‘look’ which is defined in dictionaries as turning one’s eyes toward any object. This describes a physical movement of an individual which is exemplified in this sentence: ‘Jimmy is looking at his new watch.’ Any person can tell what Jimmy is doing based on his action.

‘Seeing’ is taken from the word ‘see’ which dictionaries describe as to perceive something. Perception is the process of recognition or relating what the eyes see with previous knowledge. This is the part that makes it easy to confuse ‘seeing’ with ‘looking.’ In order to see or perceive an object, we need to look at it first thus we often interchange the two words.

Based on the first definition alone, we can say that ‘looking’ and ‘seeing’ are actually different from each other. To illustrate this, we use the same sentence: ‘Jimmy is looking at his new watch.’ Jimmy’s movement suggests that his eyes are directed at the object he is holding which clearly describes the word ‘looking.’

If we substitute ‘seeing’ for ‘looking,’ we come up with this: Jimmy is seeing his new watch. For most of us, nothing is really wrong with this sentence. However, since we already know how each term is defined, we can tell that it’s not proper usage. First, from a distance, one can tell that Jimmy’s eyes are aimed at his watch, and ‘looking’ should be the right word to use. Second, if we are to observe the definition of ‘see’ properly, there is really no way of determining what Jimmy’s perception of the object is. It might be a wristband or a bracelet to him.

The two words also have other definitions that make them unique from each other. ‘Looking’ can also be described as ‘appearance’ while ‘seeing’ is also defined as ‘an act or movement’ which is quite opposed to their first descriptions. An example would be like this: ‘Jimmy is looking thin with his new jacket.’ This clearly shows what Jimmy’s appearance is with his jacket. While with this example, ‘Jimmy went sight-seeing wearing his new jacket’ makes use of ‘seeing’ to describe an action Jimmy did.

1. ‘Looking’ is turning one’s eyes to a certain object while ‘seeing’ is the perception of an object or how a person determines what he is looking at.
2. ‘Looking’ can also refer to appearance while ‘seeing’ can be defined as an act or physical activity.

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  1. There is a book for kids that addresses the differences between looking and seeing as a fun way to spend some time. “Looking and Seeking Learning to observe” is available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

  2. In terms of looking at an art object,Iam of the opinion that its simply glaring without any deep thought on the object where as seeing is a deeper look where an analysis is made on elements such as shape,colour,texture etc and dimensions on relationship of the various parts. Or viewing what makes it what it is

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