19

In Spanish we have got an ironic expression which is: "You've discovered America!" or "He thinks that he has discovered the Mediterranean Sea" to say that someone has said something obvious or well known as if it were novel or original.

Is there any equivalent idiom in English?

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    I'm going to recommend selecting talrnu's "Capatain Obvious". It is (unfortunately) the "mascot" of the Hotels.com brand, but I'm pretty sure the term was around before that, and it is currently fairly popular among the younger (than I am) crowd, I gather. – Hot Licks Jul 7 '15 at 15:40
  • Similar is "to Columbus something" which means to act like you've discovered something even though it has already been discovered. This is primarily used when white people act like they have discovered something that was already prevalent in a minority culture. – Kevin Jul 8 '15 at 19:25
  • A funny variation we use in Spain is "You've discovered garlic soup" (many people consider it a very simple yet heartwarming dish) – user128462 Jul 9 '15 at 9:16
31

It's common in modern American English to refer to someone who makes such obvious statements as "Captain Obvious", as if they are a superhero whose super power is stating obvious facts. A common usage of the term is "Thanks, Captain Obvious."

  • Yes, "Captain Obvious" is fairly popular these days, from what I've heard. Based on what Ngram shows, the term appears to have popped up suddenly in the late 90s, and is getting more popular by the minute. – Hot Licks Jul 7 '15 at 15:30
  • (Of course, the title being picked up as the "mascot" for Hotels.com didn't hurt it's popularity at all.) – Hot Licks Jul 7 '15 at 15:38
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    Possibly related, the Bob and Tom nationally syndicated radio show had a segment during the mid to late 90's called the "Mr. Obvious Show" in which the title character helped his callers come to grips with various dilemmas. For example, one caller believes that a vicious critter of some kind lives in the pipe under his sink and growls every time his wife washes scrap food down the sink. (Mr. Obvious correctly deduces that this is in fact the garbage disposal.) – GalacticCowboy Jul 7 '15 at 17:00
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    @talrnu It's not almost exclusively American, it's well known by young Brits. – Pharap Jul 8 '15 at 8:21
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    @HotLicks I think that's only their mascot in the US. Either they don't advertise in the UK or they don't use Captain Obvious in the UK. – Pharap Jul 8 '15 at 8:24
27

There is always the ever-popular "No shit, Sherlock", for when someone points out an obvious fact.

"Golly, gee, wow Batman!!" is occasionally used, but has a less specific meaning.

And there are various others, such as "I'll notify the Nobel committee!"

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    In a similar vein, my personal favourite done with ultra straight face, "Has anyone alerted the media?" – Marv Mills Jul 7 '15 at 15:47
  • +1 for 'Has anyone alerted the media?' – Charon Jul 7 '15 at 16:27
  • Or just "Alert the media!" – talrnu Jul 8 '15 at 14:38
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    The proper response to "No shit, Sherlock" is always "Keep digging, Watson" – scohe001 Jul 8 '15 at 16:59
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    I think the first two suggestions in this answer are not as usable as the expression "You've discovered America!" . They seem more suitable for teenagers or very informal settings. "I'll notify the Nobel committee!" is the best of the three. – Lembik Jul 9 '15 at 6:01
22

You don't say!

Hold the front page!

Well done Einstein!

Duh!

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    +1 for "Hold the front page", a good, common phrase almost always used sarcastically (it's based on what a newspaper boss would shout to their staff when a story comes in that is so big it will take the front page). Likewise "STOP PRESS" which means this story is big, we need to stop printing newspapers, pulp the ones we already printed, and start again with this as the main story – user568458 Jul 7 '15 at 16:48
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    Another popular one is "Stop the press!" – Faraz Masroor Jul 7 '15 at 17:59
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    I've only ever heard it as "stop the presses." – user124384 Jul 7 '15 at 18:20
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    I've heard both. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 7 '15 at 19:05
12

If you say something like 'stop the presses', then it should be clear you're poking fun at someone for saying the obvious.

7

I think reinvent the wheel comes close to what you are describing:

  • Fig. to make unnecessary or redundant preparations.

    • You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Read up on what others have done. I don't have to reinvent the wheel, but I will be cautious before I act.

The Free Dictionary

  • This is close, I had thought of it. But I think it doesn't fulfil the requirements. – Charon Jul 7 '15 at 14:52
  • I thinks it is very close. The meaning in both cases refers to a disruptive discovery, something really new, like the wheel or a new territory, like America. It is used not only in Spanish. There are probably other options you can post as an answer! – user66974 Jul 7 '15 at 14:56
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    There are similarities, granted. But reinventing the wheel concerns the process, not the sarcastic response which the OP seeks. Further, those that reinvented the wheel may be well aware that they have done so, whereas the OP is looking for a phrase that describes people who are ignorant of the implications of their actions. – Charon Jul 7 '15 at 14:59
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    The original connotations are those that Charon points out. Josh61´s answer is very close, but it does not fullfil completely the sarcastic part. I don´t really know if there´s a complete equivalent in English at all. – Raúl Jul 7 '15 at 15:03
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    Based on the description in the OP, I would think the direct equivalent would be more like he thinks he invented the wheel than he thinks he reinvented the wheel. To me, reinvent the wheel strongly connotes wasted effort, finding an answer to a question no one has asked, rather than the conceit of someone who thinks he is the first to think of something obvious. – choster Jul 7 '15 at 15:21
5

I like no kidding. It is still a sarcastic exclamation but it is gentler in tone than "well done Einstein" and politer than invoking Sherlock's alliterative and ever-popular expletive excrement.

The Free Dictionary gives:

Informal Everyone already knows that! Did you just find that out? (Sarcastic.)

It has a second and more literal meaning, which I think is more common (backed up by a quick google search though this is hardly definitive), of "I am being serious" or "I'm not making this up". But the sarcastic "everyone already knows that" is still well-known and the meaning would be clear from context. Here's an example usage in print:

That includes the latest season of “The Bachelorette,” where multiple guys have made fools of themselves in front of Kaitlyn Bristowe. You may be thinking, “No kidding. It’s reality TV. Isn’t that the point?” Well, sure. But according to some reality TV insiders, a surprising number of contestants start out fairly normal and truly think they understand the process. However, they’re in for an unpleasant surprise when they realize they’re actually in way over their heads. — Emily Yahr, "Here's one possible reason ‘Bachelor’ and ‘Bachelorette’ contestants act like lunatics", The Washington Post, 30 June 2015

Here the author uses the phrase "no kidding" in a slightly unusual way: by placing it in the mouths of her readers, she acknowledges that what she is saying sounds obvious rather than radical, but goes on to emphasise that there is an unexpected twist and the matter is more complicated than it first sounds.

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    Nice. Surprising that this wasn't mentioned already. – Charon Jul 7 '15 at 22:03
4

"Tell me something I don't know (and its abbreviation, TMSIDK) is used "to show sarcasm at the obvious" (the Urban Dictionary).

  • Sarcasm being a given, the important part I think, is the supposed "discovery" in the OP's idiom. Your idiom states in no uncertain terms that this information is "well known" and is not "novel or original". -I like to swear and say duh a lot but this is the best answer so far, literarily. – Mazura Jul 8 '15 at 3:37
2

water is wet or the sky is blue.

Here's both of them together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCqH9R949vY

Other related idioms that that are used as responses to questions to which the "yes" answer is obvious:

  • Is the pope catholic?
  • Does a bear [ahem] defecate in the woods?

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