I learned from google that "Hidden in Plain Sight" is a movie title. Since I caught up the expression without context, I tried to use it. Now, I'm not sure whether it can be used without making reference to the movie.

Can I say "This [...] was hidden in plain sight" referring to something that should have been obvious for everyone involved, but was overlooked due to way people approached the problem.

The context is a non-technical introduction to an academic thesis.


Yes it can. "Hidden in plain sight" isn't a widely known idiom however, so make sure it's obvious to your reader.


An Ngram ( http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=hidden+in+plain+sight&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3&share= ) shows that the near-paradoxical idiom has been used since at least 1901. The sudden surge round about 1981 can't be due to the film - I'm wondering if Chomsky popularised the term.

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