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What's the difference between "gaze" and "stare" ?

Hi, I'm french and I would like to know what's the difference between "gaze" and "stare".


Thank you:)



I usually think of a stare as more rude. Example: "He stared at the scar on her cheek." Then a gaze is more affectionate or it has more feelings in it. Example: "She gazed longingly at him."

Hello, Malorie:



If a girl walked down street with red, yellow, and blue hair, you would look at her because she looked so strange.  She might get angry and ask "What are you STARING at?"


If you saw your father sitting in the  garden for a long time, you might ask him "What are you doing?"  He might reply, "Oh, nothing.  I have just been GAZING at the moon for an hour and appreciating its beauty."

Edit: walked down THE street ....

You never hear 'gaze' in conversations. It's like an old word you only see in books and stuff. To 'stare' is just to look at one thing for a long time.


So like ----> What are you staring at? (it has 'what's so interesting' kind of nuance.)


What are you looking at?

What are you gazing at?


Same meaning, but gaze is more armorous and not used in daily speech.



Considering Carmen’s comment, an example of expression you can find in books is “historical gaze”

If we are taking a view for a little amount of time we use the word GAZE.


If we look at something,surprised or interested for some time we use the word STARE.





Hi Malorie,

in that picture of yours it definitely seems like you are staring at us, with an

expression of light reproach or even distaste  from what you see.

(Or maybe at the photographer.)

It does depend upon the duration of the act and also upon the intensity of the expression.

Sabine definitely has the right idea.


To stare at something is to look at it in a focused, fixed and concentrated way. You stare at something if you find it strange or surprising. 


By contrast, 'gaze' is a vague and dreamy way of looking at something or someone. You gaze at the moon or stars. You gaze dreamily into your lover's eyes.


Per Webster's definition,


gaze: to fix the eyes in a steady intent look often with eagerness or studious attention.

"He gazed intently into her eyes."


stare: to look at someone or something for a long time often with your eyes wide open.

"He stared at her chest the second he laid eyes on her."


The difference is clear as whistle. Don't stare because you might end up with a broken nose!


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