Hindsight is 20 20 Meaning
Definition: Choices that seemed difficult in the past now seem clear after the person knows what happened as a result of those choices.
Origin of Hindsight is 20 20
This expression comes from the way people describe good vision. A person with normal, good vision has 20/20 sight. Hindsight is an understanding of a past event. The exact origin is unclear, but it likely began sometime around the mid-1900s.
Examples of Hindsight is 20 20
This example shows two college students using the idiom after making a bad decision.
Frank: I can’t believe I got caught cheating on that quiz.
Karl: Yeah, I told you it was a bad idea! The quiz wasn’t worth that many points, and this school punishes cheaters harshly. You shouldn’t have cheated!
Frank: Well, obviously I know that now. Hindsight is 20/20.
Karl: Next time maybe you should listen to me.
In this example, two friends are talking about things they would change in their past, if they had the chance.
Lily: I wish I had studied to become a doctor. That was always my dream. I know my parents wanted me to become a lawyer like them, but that never made me happy.
Grace: Yeah, I have some pretty big regrets as well. I never should have married my first husband. I knew we had problems, but I thought we could work through them. In the end, the problems were just too big to overcome.
Lily: Do you think the lessons we learned from those bad experiences were worth it?
Grace: No. I’d rather go back and change my actions. If I knew then what I know now, I would never have done things the way I did. Hindsight is 20/20.
The excerpt below is about a consumer who bought some products because of a specific promotion. However, the store failed to apply that promotion.
- Anthony’s greatest challenge was proving he’d been offered the 48-month-long deferred interest promotion, as it was finalized by the sales rep via phone. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but written receipt of the promotion’s terms and conditions would likely have saved Anthony much time and anguish. –Chicago Tribune
This excerpt is about a bad decision that resulted in a baseball team losing the game.
- “That stunk,” Bryant said. “It’s kind of frustrating because that could have changed the whole outcome of the game. … That’s a more comfortable lead for the pitchers. But hindsight is 20/20. They beat us.” –Chicago Tribune
The phrase hindsight is 20/20 emphasizes the clarity that people have about their past decisions, as opposed to the uncertainty before they make the decision.