I heard a woman who is a native English speaker saying "someone will say something like that in public or under the glass." I've not heard of the idiom, "under the glass", but considering the context it seems to mean something opposite of "in public". Or, I just might have heard wrong. Could you kindly tell me what this exactly means or whether it is misheard and there would be another proper words?

*Please allow me to explain about the context behind the conversation. We had a discussion over the case where certain people said very discriminative words to some minority group. I said some anti discrimination laws could be deterrent for those cases.Then she said, like "Even if we try to pass such laws, people will still say something like that to you in public or under the glass."

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    Under the (eye) glass or microscope. Under scrutiny. What "something like that" is isn't stated, perhaps uncontroversial, carefully correct, noncommittal, etc. Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 9:38
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    It's got no currency. Looks to me like an eggcorn / malapropism for under / in front of the [media, news services] camera [lens]. Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 10:39
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    There's a not very well referenced thread on phrases.org.uk which tentatively supports the microscope idea.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 13:16
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    Similar to "in the spotlight" perhaps. Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 14:03
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    It makes no sense; I think you misheard. Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 15:41

2 Answers 2


To be sure. you would have to ask that woman, what did she mean by that "phrase".

I did a google book search, and it resulted in multiple hits; a casual perusal gave the impression that in most cases it is literal (e.g. Put the wire under the glass) and the second most (figurative?) common meaning to be under scrutiny.

I am attaching the links for the search I did.



Here is a discussion on the meaning of the phrase.


Or it may simply mean "very observable" as in a glass case. Meaning 2 in Wiktionary(under glass). The definite article added for emphasis.



Under the glass means under inspection!

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 16:55
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    That makes no sense; who uses a racial epithet while under inspection?? Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 18:07

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