I need to find an idiom for the following situation.

I am talking to the HR department about a particular policy. I did not know about the policy beforehand and HR had never explained it to me. For HR people, all the policies are obvious, I presume.

I want to say to HR:

HR people discuss HR policies with employees on a daily basis and so for them the relevant facts are very obvious or need no explanation but for me they are completely new

I want to replace obvious or needs no explanation with an idiom or phrase.

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    Since you've tagged "Indian-English", I can think about a phrase which I have heard often. "Crystal clear" or "Clear as crystal". Try substituting it and read the sentence. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 5:16
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    'Crystal clear' is not a fit because the policy is not confusing.. HR did not tell me about the policy because she thought I would already know it but I did not know the policy. So for HR people they would be explaining/discussing the policy to daily so sometime they assume the other person would know the policy. I want to say to HR for you the policy would be .?????(no brainer??? not perfect fit either )........ but not for me
    – Tokci
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 5:29
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    "self-evident". For them the relevant facts are self-evident.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 15:35
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    This Question is not duplicated by the one cited. This Question is about appropriate professional discourse (usage), not a narrow matter of synonyms for 'clearly'. The fact that most of these Answers treat is as that does not change the fact that that is not what OP is asking about. Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 16:15
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    Why is this tagged "Indian-English"? I'm not convinced ELU is the right place to answer questions where the usage being sought is peculiar to Indian English, even though it's okay to ask what some particular IE usage means, or whether it's grammatically acceptable in "standard" English. Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 18:06

17 Answers 17


In a professional context, common terms for what you describe would be transparent, self-evident and intuitively obvious. (The last of those could be regarded as strictly tautological, but in professional circles it emphasises, for example, the idea that it is not hard to grasp a given detail of policy if you understand the structure around it.)

Again, speaking as a professional, the crux of this point seems to be not so much professional terms for ‘obvious’, but the statement ‘but for me they are completely new’. The sense here, and the thing aparently not being provided by HR in this case, is that non-specialists naturally require guidance.

If you put it in that kind of form, then you are no longer saying that you lack understanding: you are now saying that as a professional outfit it is HR’s duty to make sure that it provides understanding to its clients and others by making clear in its policies what it is talking about, and why.

With such ideas in mind, you could adjust the emphasis of your statement to something like:

HR people discuss HR policies with each other on a daily basis, and so for them those policies and their implications are intuitively obvious. Naturally, however, non-specialists do not find these elaborate professional structures transparent. They need the experts’ explanation and guidance.

  • @Ashish I am very glad if this is useful to you.There are many exciting synonyms for 'obvious', as others have noted. It seemed to me that your challenge was more specifically to find one to help you navigate professional discourse critically but also respectfully. Some of the other suggestions are straight-up insulting, and should be avoided. Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 12:44
  • The term "explicate" or "make explicit" fits into your answer, I believe
    – Otheus
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 18:34

It goes without saying is used in British English to mean something is so obvious it is not worth mentioning.

Here's a definition from Cambridge Dictionaries Online

  • OP is not talking about something too obvious to mention. The question involves the application of ideas/policies/whatever that would be stated out loud and then whizz past as if they and their implications are obvious. It becomes your job to be aware that you are (implicitly) agreeing to something that no-one has explained to you and might in effect be not at all what you meant. For example, think about the possible implications in various contexts of innocently agreeing that you have liberal views. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 12:48
  • It goes without saying that 'it goes without saying' is often used more for emphasis than for its literal meaning, as idioms tend to be. It's also worth noting that this phrase is not uncommon in American English.
    – talrnu
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 13:36
  • "It goes without saying" doesn't really seem to apply when there is a disconnect between what someone thinks the other person knows, and what they actually know. How would you use this in the sentence provided by the OP?
    – ColleenV
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 23:11
  • @ColleenV I'd use it like this: HR people discuss HR policies with employees on a daily basis and so for them the relevant facts go without saying but for me they are completely new.
    – Charl E
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 9:30

Second nature:

something you can do easily or without much thought because you have done it many times before (MW)

E.g. ...for them it is second nature, but it's new to me.


... for them the relevant facts are self-evident, but for me they are completely new


Consider crystal clear:

perfectly clear : able to be seen through completely
perfectly easy to understand (MW)

Readily seen, perceived, or understood (TFD)

  • Crystal clear doesn't seem to really fit what the OP is looking for. For something to be crystal clear, it often needs to be explained succinctly. This was an issue where explanation was not given up front. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 13:43

The usage "Self explanatory" is seen in various situations

  • +1 Normally I'd say you should add a definition to your answer, but I think this idiom is self explanatory. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 16:54

I would say that the policies are "intuitive" to HR people, or "I know HR people can probably do this on auto-pilot, but I need a little more instruction."

Please do not use "for crying out loud"! This is an expression of exasperation; it means you are frustrated with the other person and will be perceived as inappropriate.


How about the word 'familiar'. Being opposite to 'completely new' it seems appropriate. Additionally including 'commonplace' maybe flows better.

Could also use 'unfamiliar' in place of 'completely new' :

HR people discuss HR policies with people on daily basis and so for them the relevant facts are familiar and commonplace but for me they are new and unfamiliar

.. and therefore require some degree of explanation to the uninitiated.


"As clear as day"

While to you, the policies are as clear as mud, or you remain ever in the dark.


"As plain as the nose on your face"

But you haven't a clue.

  • This cannot be used in professional/Business/official communication, does not sound appropriate and specially over on phone a call.
    – Tokci
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 4:38
  • First one is better and second one is not.
    – Tokci
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 4:44
  • Which cannot be used in professional comm? In voice communications, idioms are far more acceptable and far more leniency given. For instance, I would write "obvious" or perhaps "self evident". But you seem to be after an idiomatic phrase. "Goes without saying" is an awful idiom because it means just the opposite of what it says, and thus, is implicitly disingenuous. But in spoken communication, this is hardly an issue. (But note, doesn't apply to your situation strongly)
    – Otheus
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 18:24
  • If you want a synonym for "obvious", go with self evident or intuitive. For antonyms, you want such policies to be "explicated" (explicit) to avoid ambiguities, misunderstandings, and arbitrariness.
    – Otheus
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 18:28
  • Example: "everyday employees are not clued in to policies which to you are as plain as the nose on my face".
    – Otheus
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 18:32

I've used Trivial in the past to indicate that something might be obvious to some, but it does not mean they're obvious to others.

The rules might be trivial to HR, but require explanations for others.

1 : commonplace, ordinary

  • not a fit and this may anger HR as for the policies are important.
    – Tokci
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 4:42
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    "Trivial" might be a good synonym, but colloquially, it's connotations are very negative. @ashish
    – Otheus
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 18:31

Self evident would indicate that anybody could work it out for themselves.

The "self" being evident would be the content of the message rather than the reader or the author.

You could use the phrase in this form though.

"Practices which may seem self evident to HR staff are not so obvious to those in other departments who are unfamiliar with the current HR policies in use."


"Taken for granted"


Something assumed to be true without verification or proof.

In your context I think this works because it basically means that from HR's perspective the policy is so obvious/commonplace/self-evident that it's considered a standard fact of the matter without a second thought. To an outsider (such as yourself) who has never had the background of dealing with the policy, it can't be "taken for granted"--you lack all the information.


"No brainer" can also be used in this scenario

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    No, it could not sensibly be used here. It would be professionally inappropriate to describe the ideas as trivially obvious (which is the sense of a 'no-brainer'), and that is also not what the OP means. OP is trying to convey respectfully that the concepts at hand (whatever those are) are professionally subtle and involved, in a specialised discourse, and that it would be nice if the HR professionals involved made it easier for normal humans to understand and use them rather than (it seems) in effect punishing others for not having their training. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 14:56

Plain as day is a good fit for this situation.


You can try matter of course, since the HR department would know the details and nuances of their policies as part of their job:

Definition: something that is to be expected as a natural or logical consequence (MW)

So, we can say that...

HR people discuss HR policies with people on a daily basis and so for them the relevant facts are a matter of course but for me they are completely new


Clear-cut (common) or perspicuous (rarer)


"You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand"

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