What is an idiom for analysing, describing, or understanding something from an unusual point of view? A sentence using it might be:

If you _______, it is quite similar to a burrito.

With the similarity with burritos being rather surprising from the most usual perspective. I'm quite sure there was an idiom with the form "look at it ____", but I'm drawing a blank on what it was.

Clarification: The answers so far might work, but some of them are more neutral than what I'm thinking of. I want to suggest oddity.

  • 3
    If you can grokamole, it's quite similar to a burrito. – deadrat Jul 12 '15 at 23:06
  • If you let your imagination take flan, it's quite similar to a burrito. – deadrat Jul 12 '15 at 23:07
  • Is it chili in here, or is it quite similar to a burrito? – deadrat Jul 12 '15 at 23:08
  • If you consider arroz by any other name, it's quite similar to a burrito. – deadrat Jul 12 '15 at 23:13

If you look at it cockeyed....

  • Matches what I intended in both tone and meaning. Also, searching for it led me to "if you squint", which is the common expression I was trying to recall. – duplode Jul 13 '15 at 3:26

Look at it from a different angle?

Or what about if you think outside the box?

  • Perhaps, but I wonder if there is something that also suggests oddity. – duplode Jul 12 '15 at 22:53
  • @duplode - see my edit. – Charon Jul 12 '15 at 22:55
  • "Thinking outside the box" puts the focus on the person doing the thinking. Also, it is a little too positive - it might imply the alternative perspective is ultimately the better one. – duplode Jul 12 '15 at 22:57
  • Also, look at it from the outside. – Mazura Jul 13 '15 at 2:12
  • If you think outside the tortilla, it's quite similar to a tostada. – Patrick M Jul 13 '15 at 2:56

If you think laterally, it is quite similar to a burrito.

  • It kind of fits. Like "think outside the box", though, it seems to be more about the thinker than about the thought. – duplode Jul 12 '15 at 23:07
  • Marty, it's perfect! You're just not thinking 4th dimensionally! – Mazura Jul 13 '15 at 2:32
  • 1
    @duplode The term, and the concept was coined by management scientist Edward de Bono – WS2 Jul 13 '15 at 7:54

If you approach it tangentially, ...

  • Closest so far. A nitpick is that ideally I would have something less formal. – duplode Jul 12 '15 at 23:10

Thinking off-the-wall might suggest the oddity you want.

If you think off-the-wall, it is quite similar to a burrito.

off-the-wall: strange, often in a funny or interesting way [MacMillan]


If you want something less formal than tangential, how about "If you approach it slaunchwise....." I can't find a good reference for it, but it has been in use at MIT for decades, meaning tilted in a strange way.

  • If you ignore the issue of how uncommon this word seems to be, it fits perfectly! Slaunchways (link to thesaurus.com) seems to be slightly more common as far as Google can tell. – duplode Jul 13 '15 at 1:43

If you extrapolate, it's quite similar to a burrito.

If you look at it from the right perspective, it resembles a burrito.

  • "From the right perspective" could work, depending on tone the "right" is given. – duplode Jul 13 '15 at 1:36
  • Well, "proper perspective" would avoid confusion with the political right, if that's what you mean. ;) – David Blomstrom Jul 13 '15 at 2:06
  • That's not a worry. I just meant not making "right" sound as "literally correct", but rather "fit for the point I am trying to make". :) – duplode Jul 13 '15 at 2:15

For the sake of completeness: If you squint hard enough is the expression I couldn't recall at first.

  • 1
    I do not think this is complete actually "If you squint at it hard enough, it kinda looks like a [common noun]." It implies that the vague similarity requires some strenuous examination to ascertain. You could use "look" or "kind of" for style instead of squint or kinda or preface it with "I think" to make it strictly a matter of opinion but other variations seem unusual to me... – Tonepoet Jul 13 '15 at 17:12
  • @Tonepoet That does seem to be the case. I'm editing the answer, thanks. – duplode Jul 13 '15 at 20:00

In the specific context of debate, playing the devil's advocate is the act of arguing from a perspective you don't personally align with, and is especially challenging when you personally disagree with that perspective (hence mention of "the devil"). It's actually often necessary in order to provide a substantial proponent for an unpopular point of view - otherwise, a debate against that point of view turns into a group ranting session.

It provides many benefits, including broadening your own understanding of the subject being debated by forcing you to look at it from a completely different perspective. More than once, this has led me to identify my own falsely-founded preconceptions and completely change my thoughts on several subjects.

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