Look Aside: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
September 21, 2023

"Look aside" means turning your gaze away from something on purpose. It's like when someone asks you not to look because something private or awkward is happening. It can also mean ignoring a situation, kind of like turning a blind eye. But people often use "look away" or "turn a blind eye" more than "look aside" to describe this.

In short:

"Look aside" means intentionally ignoring or avoiding something.

What Does "Look Aside" Mean?

This phrase is typically used when someone intentionally avoids paying attention to something, especially if it's uncomfortable or problematic.

  • Physical Ignoring: This is the literal interpretation. If you turn your head away from something you don't want to see, you're looking aside.
  • Metaphorical Ignoring: On a deeper level, looking aside can also mean choosing not to engage with an issue or topic mentally or emotionally.

So, when you use the idiom "look aside," you're describing an act of intentional disregard, whether it's avoiding eye contact with a person or sidestepping a difficult conversation.

Where Does "Look Aside" Come From?

The phrase "look aside" has roots that aren't easy to trace, mainly because it captures a universal human action. However, we can dig into some historical contexts where the phrase has been used.

Historical Texts

"For I have learned to look aside, and to restrain my curiosity."

— from a 19th-century literary work.

Evolution Over Time

The phrase has evolved over the years, shifting from literal descriptions in older literature to its modern psychological implications of intentionally ignoring or avoiding something.

10 Examples of "Look Aside" in Sentences

Understanding an idiom gets easier when you see it used in different sentences.

Here are ten examples that show the versatility of "look aside:"

  • She looked aside when her little brother broke the vase, he is the golden child after all.
  • He couldn't look aside when he saw the injustice happening.
  • Quite frankly, they told her to look aside, but she confronted the issue head-on.
  • Can we afford to look aside when there is so much at stake?
  • He looked aside as they discussed the controversial topic.
  • I tried not to look aside when she talked about how she was in a pickle.
  • My friends looked aside when I was going through tough times, but so it goes.
  • The politician looked aside when questioned about corruption.
  • She looked aside from the painful memories and moved forward.
  • Why did you look aside when you knew something was wrong?

Examples of "Look Aside" in Pop Culture

The phrase "look aside" is not just confined to literature or casual conversations; it has made notable appearances in movies, songs, and even political speeches.

  • In the movie "12 Angry Men", characters often look aside from the main issue, illustrating the idiom in a dramatic setting.
  • The TV show "Breaking Bad" features moments where characters look aside from moral dilemmas.
  • In Bob Dylan's song "Blowin' in the Wind," the lyrics suggest society often looks aside from critical issues.
  • Former President Barack Obama, in one of his speeches, criticized people who look aside from social injustices.
  • The popular book "To Kill a Mockingbird" involves instances where people look aside from racial discrimination.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Look Aside"

The English language is rich in expressions, and there are other ways to convey the idea behind "look aside."

  • Turn a blind eye
  • Ignore
  • Avoid
  • Overlook
  • Disregard
  • Shrug off
  • Brush aside
  • Pay no mind
  • Sidestep
  • Skirt around

While each of these phrases has its unique nuances, they all revolve around the general theme of intentionally ignoring or avoiding something.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Look Aside"

  • What does "look aside" mean?

It means intentionally ignoring or avoiding something or someone.

  • Where did the phrase "look aside" originate?

The exact origins are unclear, but it has been used in historical texts and its usage has evolved over time.

  • Is "look aside" used in popular culture?

Yes, it appears in movies, songs, and even political speeches to convey the act of intentionally ignoring or avoiding.

  • Is "look aside" formal or informal?

It can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

  • Can "look aside" have a positive meaning?

Sometimes, looking aside can be seen as an act of discretion or tact, although it often has a negative connotation.

  • What is the antonym of "look aside"?

The antonym could be "confront," "face," or "address," which imply directly dealing with the issue instead of ignoring it.

  • Is "look aside" the same as "look away"?

While similar, "look away" can mean physically turning your gaze, while "look aside" often implies an intentional act of ignoring.

  • Can "look aside" be used metaphorically?

Yes, it's often used metaphorically to talk about ignoring issues or challenges.

  • How do I use "look aside" in a sentence?

You can say something like, "She looked aside when the controversial topic was raised."

  • Are there any famous quotes that use "look aside"?

Though not ubiquitous in famous quotes, it is sometimes used in literature and political speeches to underscore moments of avoidance or ignorance.

Final Thoughts About "Look Aside"

The phrase "look aside" is a compelling idiom that captures the act of intentionally ignoring or avoiding a situation, person, or issue.

  • It's a versatile idiom that can be used in formal and informal settings.
  • Though it often has a negative connotation, it can sometimes be seen as a discreet or tactful action.
  • It has appeared in various forms of media, including movies, TV shows, and songs, demonstrating its cultural significance.

The idiom serves as a linguistic tool for highlighting avoidance or discretion, and its various usages in literature and pop culture underscore its enduring relevance. Understanding "look aside" and its variations can enrich our communication, whether penning a novel or simply chatting with friends.

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