What Does A Bird’s-Eye View Mean?

A Bird’s-Eye View Meaning

Definition: A view seen from high above.

This phrase describes a view that is seen as a bird might see it, from an elevated perspective. For example, when flying in an airplane you get a bird’s-eye view of the towns and cities below you. Climbing up a tall tower affords you the same perspective.

The phrase can also be used in a more figurative sense; when someone steps back and looks at the entire situation from a more distant perspective, it can be said that they are seeing it from a bird’s-eye view.

Origin of A Bird’s-Eye View

birds eye view definitionThis expression comes from the literal imagery of seeing things the way birds do: from up high. There is little verified information on when it first became part of everyday vernacular.

Examples of A Bird’s-Eye View

birdseye viewIn the modern day, the literal use of bird’s-eye view is used to talk about something that is seen from above, as in,

  • We climbed the Empire State building and got a bird’s-eye view of New York City; it was incredible.

It’s also popularly used by designers and architects when drawing up plans for a building.

  • We want to see the plan from a bird’s-eye view.

In can also be used in a figurative sense,

  • In order to determine why the company was losing money, the CFO had to take a step back and get a bird’s-eye view of the situation, so that he could locate the cause of the problem.

In this example, the CFO is staying in one location physically, but he is looking at the situation in a broader sense.

More Examples

  • Others had a bird’s eye view of the initial aftermath and watched travelers flood onto the tarmac as their plane ascended into the sky. –WLWT Cincinnati
  • A bird’s-eye view of the 246-meter tall elevator test tower. –Daily Mail

Summary

The popular phrase a bird’s-eye view refers to a perspective as seen from above, or at least far away, from the minor details. It can be used both literally and figuratively.