Learn English – Word/phrase for seeing something for the first time and being impressed


I'm looking for a word that can best describe a thing that you see when you first come to a place, a thing so strange or unusual that you didn't think something like that could exist (or you have been aware of it, but it's far more than you expected), even though it is normal stuff in the area.

It can be a (strange) custom of a country that a visitor came across for the first time, or the bookworm's house, filled with books. It can be the gorgeous sight of the Pyramids and the fact that you have never thought how small your are compared to it, even though you have known almost everything about it. In my language (Vietnamese), there is a phrase for it: hit the eyes.

Do we have any equivalent phrase for hit the eyes in English?

Note: The meaning in the Vietnamese phrase is mostly for the first thing you see. It may be something special to the person, it may be not. But it is the first that this person see. The thing may be (or even just) a normal thing of the place/object, but it keeps appearing enough so that the person won't forget the impression, although when time pass by they can get used to it and feel back to normal again. When I say about the impression, I say that it will be the thing that they tend to remember first when telling others about this.

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Best Answer

The single word that you would use is striking.

That strikes the attention of an observer; producing a vivid impression on the mind; telling, impressive, unusually remarkable. [OED]

People in red satin evening gowns, the pyramids in Egypt, and platform heels with fish in them are also striking. [vocabulary.com]

There is also the idiom not believe one's eyes that you can consider.

Fig. not to believe what one is seeing; to be shocked or dumbfounded at what one is seeing.

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs


When we arrived, I couldn't believe my eyes. Picture it – pyramids – gigantic pyramids of stone stretching into the heavens surrounded on all sides by miles and miles of bleach white sand.

The Hands of Aldulan - Book Two: The Isle of Dusk By Eric A. Radulski

There is also the ear version: not believe one's ears.