Idioms are expressions used in everyday speech. Many idioms do not make sense if you translate them literally. Instead, it is better to learn what they mean figuratively. When you do, you will learn more about the English language and how English speakers see the world.
A Bird’s Eye View
Imagine you are a bird, flying above a big city. You have excellent eyesight, so you can see buildings, people, cars, bicycles, and parks from high in the sky. Because you are flying, you can also see a large part of the city all at once. In English, this picture of what a bird can see is known as “a bird’s eye view” (also spelled “a bird’s-eye view”).
“A bird’s eye view” has a few different meanings. It can mean a blueprint to an architect, a floor plan to a carpenter, or even a map to driver. When people in business are working on a project and experience a problem, you may here them say, “We need to step back and get a bird’s eye view.” In this case, they mean that they need to look at the project from a different angle in order to find the solution. They need to look at all the different parts of the project and see how they connect instead of focusing on tiny details individually.
Try it Yourself
Is there a project that you are working on that you are struggling with? Maybe you are researching a topic or trying to decide where you want to study. Wherever you feel there is a problem, see if you can step back and see the situation from a bird’s eye view. Look at the bigger picture and how everything is connected instead of only the details. You may just discover something new that you didn’t see before.
Other Expressions with Birds
“A bird’s eye view” isn’t the only expression that uses birds. Here are a couple more:
…kill two birds with one stone.
In English, this idiom is used to describe doing two different tasks with one action. For example, if you study English abroad and get to visit family that live there, then you kill two birds with one stone.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
This expression means that it is best to keep what you already have rather than to risk losing what you have while trying to get something better. A common example of this is when a person wants to quit a job because another company plans to hire him or her for better pay. If that person quits, they would risk not being hired by the other company. Hopefully, he or she would realize that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
If you enjoyed this lesson, find out how you can study English at the English Language Institute at Missouri State University!