A friend’s coworker invited him to lunch via email and in the email he also wrote the below.

if no, please look past my shoulder when you see me next time

What does the “look past shoulder” mean? Ignore me (sarcasm?)

  • "Put out the fire and don't look past my shoulder" Baba O'Riley, The Who
    – fundagain
    Aug 28, 2018 at 22:18
  • "And don't look past my shoulder, Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!" Summer of Sam, springfieldspringfield.co.uk/… - referencing The Who
    – fundagain
    Aug 28, 2018 at 22:28
  • "look past" by itself is a synonym for "ignore". en.oxforddictionaries.com/thesaurus/ignore
    – fundagain
    Aug 28, 2018 at 22:40
  • 1
    Is the coworker a native English speaker, and if so, what country is he from? (And, for that matter, what country are they in now?)
    – ruakh
    Aug 28, 2018 at 22:52
  • I’m not sure if the coworker is a native speaker. Both are in Japan.
    – Alex
    Aug 28, 2018 at 23:21

2 Answers 2


from google books:

to look past or by without seeing, hence to refrain from bestowing notice or attention upon Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

As in:

... if no, please ignore me when you see me next time!

As for the shoulder reference ... my guess here is to not even make eye contact.

  • 1
    But why "look past my shoulder" rather than "look past me"?
    – ruakh
    Aug 28, 2018 at 22:52
  • 1
    @lbf: Might the person be alluding to his giving the OP the cold shoulder?
    – Wordster
    Aug 29, 2018 at 0:17
  • 1
    @Wordster indeed!
    – lbf
    Aug 29, 2018 at 0:37

"Don't look past me" can mean "Don't ignore me", since "look past" can mean (amongst other things) ignore/snub Oxford Dictionary. So the phrase "Don't look past my shoulder" makes sense as "Don't ignore me".

Searching Google and Google Books in tight date ranges, the first mention of the exact phrase "look past my shoulder" is from the song Baba O'Riley by the The Who 1971.

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