I'm writing about a concept that I would like to explain at three levels: high-level, medium, and very granular.

"Fifty-thousand foot view" is a common business idiom to describe the highest, most general level. (I've also heard 10K and 30K feet.)

But, what's the comparable phrase for the medium and lowest-levels of explanation?

  • A nice noun phrase for your purposes might be "getting down to brass tacks."
    – Uticensis
    Mar 30 '11 at 17:20
  • 2
    Perhaps the antonym is "the view from the trenches."
    – oosterwal
    Jun 23 '12 at 4:41
  • @oosterwal Or "the worm's eye view".
    – BoldBen
    Jul 29 '19 at 15:58

10 Answers 10


I've heard

at the detail level

at the microscopic view

down in the trenches

  • 5
    +1 for "down in the trenches", since that's a "negative 6 foot view". Mar 15 '11 at 5:11

There are also the complementary "Bird's eye view" and "Worm's eye view", but these may be more specific to artistic and technical projections rather than business-speak.


The nitty gritty

is common as well


Deep Dive

I am an MBA and am well versed in business-speak :) A deep dive is when you take some extra time to explore a topic quite thoroughly

  • 7
    +1 I feel like the canary in the coal mine. I'm allergic to business-speak, and just reading this answer had a physical effect on me, like a punch to the gut. Definitely correct. Mar 29 '11 at 16:02

You've handled the broad strokes. Need help with the details?


If you are going to look at something in three levels of detail and you are using an aeronautic metaphor for one, you ought to do so for the other two as well.

  • fifty thousand feet
  • buzzing the control tower
  • sifting the debris

On second thoughts, I like Robusto's answer, so

  • at fifty thousand feet
  • in the control tower
  • from the trenches

The key thing is to engage your imagination to make metaphors vivid and avoid cliché.


I always think of aeronautical terms:

  • xx thousand foot view
  • buzzing the airfield
  • on the ground

Which are really a "far view", "near view" and "closeup"


Taking a "deeper dive" (means getting into more detail), but sometimes you have to "get out of the weeds" (too much detail)


where the pedal hits the metal


where the metal meets the meat [1]

... I think :)


In the US military, it's common practice to dumb things down (explain in basic terms), sometimes even getting into the weeds (too detailed).

This level of instruction is referred to as "Barney Style", after the purple dinosaur (for its appeal to young children):

Let me break it down for you Barney style.

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