Does anyone know the origin of the phrase, "look the other way"?

It is generally used today in any situation where one person allows something to happen without acting. They need non literally look the other way, so when and how did that non-literal usage come to be?


Well it's not so much an idiom as just a straightly used phrase. If someone is about to do something wrong and you will see them do it, you can "look the other way", so that you deliberately ignore what they are doing.

  • I know what it means, I'm looking for an origin, or is it lost to history? – Sam May 1 '11 at 13:45
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    I think Orbling is saying it doesn't have an origin per-se, because it's more or less a literal phrase. The phrase "He was hungry" doesn't have an origin either. – Adrian Petrescu May 1 '11 at 21:54
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    @Adrian: But what Sam is pointing out is that the phrase has also come to be understood figuratively. Someone can "allow something to happen without acting" without literally looking the other way. I think the question is, when did this phrase first take on a metaphorical aspect. (And, just to be picky, someone, at some time, was the first person to say the words He was hungry.) – Callithumpian May 1 '11 at 22:50
  • @Callithumpian: So you believe the question asked when it came about, it looks a lot like he asked what the original meaning was to me. Which was the literal saying, it has been adapted from that. – Orbling May 2 '11 at 15:40
  • @Sam: That almost certainly is the origin, as Adrian pointed out. – Orbling May 2 '11 at 15:40

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