put something into perspective: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘put something into perspective’ mean?

The idiom "put something into perspective" means to consider a situation or issue in relation to its true importance or significance, in order to gain a better understanding or judgment of it.

Idiom Explorer


Put something into perspective is an idiom that is widely used in the English language. It conveys the idea of considering or evaluating something in relation to its overall significance or importance. The idiom is commonly used to encourage a more balanced and rational understanding of a particular situation or issue. It reminds individuals to view things in a broader context, taking into account various factors and considerations.

The idiom "put something into perspective" can be dissected to analyze its individual components. The word "put" indicates an action of placing or positioning, suggesting that there is a deliberate effort involved in achieving the desired effect. The word "something" is a general term that can refer to any object, concept, or situation being evaluated. The word "into" denotes the idea of movement or transformation, implying that the object is being placed or shifted within a particular context. Lastly, "perspective" refers to a viewpoint or approach that allows for a comprehensive understanding of a subject.

The phrase "put something into perspective" has its origins rooted in the concept of visual perception. When considering its literal meaning, the idiom suggests employing a mental framework similar to how individuals assess objects in space. By stepping back and adjusting the viewpoint, one gains a clearer understanding of the relative size, distance, and significance of the object in question. In a metaphorical sense, the idiom encourages individuals to take a step back and reconsider their initial judgments or interpretations, ensuring a more comprehensive and realistic assessment.

The idiom "put something into perspective" is deeply ingrained in everyday conversations. It can be observed in both casual and formal contexts, including personal discussions, workplace interactions, academic discourse, and media representations. Its versatility and widespread usage exemplify its importance in effective communication and critical thinking. Furthermore, due to its inherent applicability, the idiom transcends cultural and geographical boundaries, making it a universally recognized phrase.

One of the primary functions of the idiom is to prevent individuals from making hasty or narrow-minded judgments. It serves as a reminder to take into consideration the bigger picture, acknowledging the complexity and various facets of a situation. By doing so, this idiom enables individuals to avoid dogmatic thinking and embrace a more nuanced and well-rounded perspective.

The context influences our understanding and interpretation.

A crucial aspect of comprehending the idiom "put something into perspective" is recognizing the subjective nature of perception. Individuals bring their own experiences, biases, and beliefs to every situation they encounter. Consequently, the idiom emphasizes the importance of recognizing and challenging one's own perspective to gain a more objective viewpoint. This acknowledgment of subjectivity enables individuals to avoid cognitive distortions and put into practice making informed decisions based on a more comprehensive understanding.

When evaluating a subject, it is important to look into the broader context and multiple viewpoints. This perspective allows for a more well-rounded understanding and encourages critical thinking. However, it is important to note that this idiom and its subsequent application are not foolproof solutions. It requires continual self-reflection and an openness to alternative perspectives. By putting it to work in everyday discourse, individuals have the opportunity to cultivate a more compassionate, knowledgeable, and empathetic society.

Another related idiom that complements the concept of "putting something into perspective" is "take into consideration." This idiom emphasizes the importance of considering all relevant factors or aspects when making a decision or forming an opinion. By taking into consideration various perspectives and information, individuals can make more informed choices and avoid rash judgments.

In addition, the idiom "put into practice" is closely related to "putting something into perspective." It refers to the act of implementing or applying a concept or idea in a practical manner. By putting concepts or ideas into practice, individuals can gain a better understanding of their real-world implications and potential limitations. This process helps individuals to contextualize and evaluate the significance of these concepts or ideas.

Furthermore, the idiom "put it to" is another idiom that relates to "putting something into perspective." This idiom suggests the act of subjecting something to a test or evaluation. By putting something to the test, individuals can assess its effectiveness, validity, or value. This evaluation process allows individuals to put the subject in question into perspective and make informed judgments or decisions.

Lastly, the idiom "put someone in their place" can also be connected to the concept of "putting something into perspective." This idiom refers to the act of reestablishing someone's position or authority, often in response to disrespectful or inappropriate behavior. By putting someone in their place, individuals can remind them of the proper boundaries and expectations, ensuring a more balanced and respectful interaction. This action helps to maintain a healthy perspective in interpersonal relationships.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "put something into perspective" can be used in a sentence:

  • After seeing how huge the universe is, my problems at work seemed so insignificant. It really put things into perspective.
  • Watching a documentary about extreme poverty in third-world countries really puts our own daily struggles into perspective.
  • Experiencing a major health scare can put life's priorities into perspective and make you appreciate the things that truly matter.

More "Context" idioms