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This word turned up recently in a news item in the British newspaper The Guardian, describing a new policy in Singapore of making school children do eye exercises to music every morning. In origin it is obviously a blend of eye and aerobics. Others appear to have independently invented this word in related senses: the US cartoonist Keith Bratton has drawn a little 16-page book called Eyerobics, with the subtitle “Eye exercises for toning and strengthening vision for all kinds of compulsive watchers”. The oldest reference I have found is to a 1985 arcade-style educational game called “EyeRobics”, intended to help speed reading. Whether the word will catch on is far from obvious, but it is the kind of catchy formation that someone is going to trademark someday, if they haven’t already.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.

Page created 02 Nov 1996