in plain view: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘in plain view’ mean?

The idiom "in plain view" means something that is easily visible or noticeable, without any effort to conceal it.

Idiom Explorer

Hidden in Plain Sight

in plain sight is an idiom related to the concept of transparency. It implies that something is clearly visible and easily noticed, with no effort to conceal or hide it. When something is "in plain sight," it is right in front of one's eyes, without any obstructions or hidden agendas. This idiom is often used to emphasize that the subject in question is easily observable by anyone present.

The phrase "hidden in plain sight" is an interesting variation of the idiom "in plain sight." It suggests that something is deliberately concealed or obscured, but in a way that is so obvious that it goes unnoticed. This can happen when something is camouflaged or blended into its surroundings, making it difficult to distinguish from its environment. In this case, the subject may be technically visible, but it takes a keen eye to recognize it. The idiom "hidden in plain sight" implies that the truth or the reality may be right in front of us, but we fail to recognize it because we are not actively looking for it.

The obviousness of his intentions was clear.

Another related idiom is "hide in plain sight," which conveys the idea of concealing something by making it so commonplace or inconspicuous that it becomes unnoticed. This can be a strategic move when trying to protect or conceal something in a way that is counterintuitive. For example, a spy may hide in plain sight by adopting a disguise and blending in with the surrounding crowd. In this case, the spy is hiding in such an obvious place that they are not suspected or noticed by others. The idiom "hide in plain sight," therefore, suggests that the best way to conceal something may be to make it too obvious to be detected.

The phrase "there for everyone to see" is closely related to the idiom "in plain view." It emphasizes that something is not only visible but also readily available for everyone to observe and comprehend. When something is "there for everyone to see," it implies that it is fully exposed and easily accessible. This can be used to describe a situation or a truth that is so apparent that it cannot be ignored or denied. The idiom suggests that the subject is so evident that it requires no elaboration or further explanation.

Lastly, the idiom "in front of one's nose" is used to convey the idea that something is so evident or obvious that it is right in front of us, but we fail to notice it. This idiom is often used to highlight the irony or the frustration of missing something that should have been easily perceivable. When something is "in front of one's nose," it implies that we have overlooked or ignored it due to our lack of attention or awareness. The idiom suggests that the subject is so close that it should have been impossible to miss.

The idiom "in plain view" encompasses these related idioms by emphasizing the absence of concealment and the presence of openness. It suggests that something is easily seen or understood without any attempt to hide or obscure it. Whether it is "in plain sight", "hidden in plain sight", "hide in plain sight", "there for everyone to see", or "in front of one's nose," the idioms convey different aspects of the same concept. They remind us of the importance of paying attention and being aware of what is right in front of us, both in a physical and metaphorical sense. By using these idioms, we can enrich our language and better express our observations and experiences.

Example usage


  • He left his wallet in plain view on the table, so it was easy for anyone to see and take.
  • The evidence was hidden in plain view, disguised as an everyday object.
  • Despite her attempt to conceal her emotions, her anxiety was in plain view on her face.

In the first example, "in plain view" is used to describe the location of the wallet, implying that it was openly and easily visible to anyone present.

In the second example, "in plain view" suggests that the evidence was disguised in such a way that it appeared ordinary, but was still easily visible for those who knew what to look for.

The third example uses "in plain view" to describe the visible display of the person's anxiety on her face, implying that it was easily noticeable by others.

More "Visibility" idioms