If I were to use an analogy with someone as a way to explain something, but the subject of my analogy was beyond their knowledge, what might be the most concise phrasing to inform me that my analogy is a bad one specifically because the analogy is beyond the person I am speaking with.

Ex. If I were to use computer components to explain a concept to someone who has no knowledge of computers.

I see this kind of thing happen frequently in discussions about scientific things, such as climate change. With climate change, as an example, a scientist may attempt to explain their proof while a denier may not even understand how the "proof" came to be a guaranteed conclusion (therefore the scientist would be the one doing the concept I'm trying to describe).

Another, possibly better example, would be when trying to explain something to a child using concepts (or simply language) too sophisticated for the child to understand, you would be doing the thing I'm looking for.


  • On behalf of is sometimes wrongly used where on the part of is intended. The distinction is that on behalf of someone means for someone's benefit' or representing someone', while on the part of someone can be roughly paraphrased as `by someone'. dictionary.com/browse/on--behalf--of – Magoo Mar 9 '17 at 2:34

The fancy explainer is talking over your head or the analogy went right past you. Meaning that nothing is sinking in to your brain or your understanding.

To go over the head: to fail to understand something She was being sarcastic, but he took her seriously - the joke totally went over his head.

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed.

  • This is almost the way I know the phrase. I would say that the analogy or explanation went over the person's [people's] head(s). – aparente001 Mar 9 '17 at 5:03

Your explanation is above my pay grade.

The expression originates from the U.S. Military, where the term "pay grade" is synonymous with rank, typically enlisted rank. Those with higher rank are paid more, due to having attained more knowledge and assuming more responsibility.

It is rapidly transferring to the general population as a way of saying what you are describing. Idioms by Free Dictionary has this:

  1. Above or beyond one's general skill, knowledge, ability, or willingness to participate.

The expression is even being used in an internet meme (warning: link leads to a Google image search with some results NSFW).

  • 6
    I always understood "above my pay grade" to mean not having to the authority to know or care about something (the first definition in your link). Interesting that the second definition is entering general usage. – jcm Mar 9 '17 at 0:28

Let's keep our discussion high level and not get bogged down in details.

to be/become so involved in something difficult or complicated that you cannot do anything else: Let's not get bogged down with individual complaints.
uk Try not to get too bogged down in the details.

This does not explicitly state that the listener cannot understand, and it could be used because the listener just doesn't have enough time.

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