I keep wanting to say "the handwriting on the wall," but that's not correct. The place I'm trying to use it is, "Alice likes Bob, Carol likes Bob, Alice thinks Bob likes her, but Bob dates Carol, and so as anyone can see, Bob did not like Alice."

What is the appropriate idiom here?

  • 1
    The simplest version is just "It's obvious that Bob does not like Alice." Mar 24, 2014 at 22:33
  • the word you're looking for might be "therefore".
    – TylerH
    Mar 25, 2014 at 1:37
  • 1
    Clearly Carol is holding Bob's loved ones hostage, and blackmailing him into dating her? You might suppose that he likes Carol more, but you can't say he DISLIKES Alice.
    – jmoreno
    Aug 15, 2015 at 2:48

6 Answers 6


There are many (in addition to ermmanen's clear as day and plain as day [but both without the articles]), including

  • clear as a bell
  • as plain as the nose on your face
  • beyond a shadow of a doubt

If you want a very colloquial term you could just end the sentence with duh, meaning

a statement perceived as obvious


clear as day (or plain as day)

to be obvious or easy to see

She's in love with him - it's as plain as day.

And some other contenders:

  • as plain as the nose on your face
  • as plain as a pikestaff
  • blindingly obvious
  • I don't know why, but I have only ever heard this used without the "A" like: "it's clear as day", or "it's plain as day". Aug 19, 2015 at 19:26

I think you are trying to recall the handwriting is on the wall. See here. Interestingly, while I often consider this to have the same meaning as clear (or plain) as day, it actually has a more ominous meaning suggesting doom. It's from the Bible. Also, interestingly, when commonly used, it implies something is quite evident, though, in the Book of Daniel, the writing was indecipherable to all but Daniel. Though visible it was not particularly plain or clear.

  • That's the phrase I was thinking of. Now that I think about it, it does kind of have the meaning I was looking for. It was obvious to everyone but Alice.
    – jfa
    Mar 24, 2014 at 23:26
  • 1
    @JFA: The writing on the wall definitely means a sign of impending doom, so I wouldn't use it in your sentence unless the situation is going to be particularly disastrous for Alice.
    – user1635
    Mar 25, 2014 at 6:47
  • @RahulNarain The only thing worse than love is unrequited love ;)
    – jfa
    Mar 31, 2014 at 3:57

Well I think Carol liking Bob is the elephant in the room.

Bob not liking Carol you could put a lot of ways:

  • no shit
  • no shit Sherlock
  • no duh
  • open secret (this could work for Carol too)
  • 2
    That is more the thing that anyone can see but no one will speak of.
    – David M
    Mar 24, 2014 at 23:53

Two rather insulting forms are, "As plain as the nose on your face," and (expanding on your own words), "As any fool can plainly see."

Somewhat more mystifying, and still a trifle insulting, are, "Without a doubt," or, "Requiring no explanation."

When meant in an ironical way, perhaps to avoid attempting the explanation of something that's truly complicated, you can say, "Intuitively obvious to the most casual observer." The implication is, "Even if I COULD explain it, you STILL would not understand it." It's quite handy in ending an unwanted discussion about difficult mathematics.


I have another answer - '..., one could infer that Bob did not like Alice.'

More accurate, I think.

Plus, the other replies are assuming Bob's dislike of Alice is real, whereas no-one really knows his motivation for preferring Carol so any reasoning is an inference rather than a statement of fact.

Unless, of course, Carol was known for putting out on the first date, in which the reasoning would be somewhat different.

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