Hello. Could someone tell me what it means to "hide in plain sight?" I came across with this phrase in an article that discusses the massacre at Virginia Tech. The phrase was used in the following sentence: Cho Seung-Hui was the mystery hiding in plain sight, a man who wore a hat and sun glasses inside, a student with no Facebook page.

Thanks in advance.
This is quite difficult to explain. It basically means so obvious that you don't see it, or pay any attention to it, or it doesn't even cross your mind.

Imagine if someone was spreading gossip about you and you were confiding in your best friend, but you had no idea who it could be spreading gossip about you. Then you find out that it's your best friend who is spreading the gossip. That's an example of someone "hiding in plain sight".
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G'day Vocabobobo

This is a very poor use of hiding in plain sight.

A person who wears sunglasses and a hat whilst indoors is not hiding in plain sight. This is actually the opposite of hiding in plain sight.

To hide in plain sight is to just blend in to the surroundings.

If a person wants to hide in plain sight all they need do is to act normally.

For example:

If a spy is on the run and is being chased the best thing to do is to find a crowd and then hide in that crowd by acting like everybody else in the crowd.

If the spy finds a bush to hide behind that will look suspicious and he will be found but if he is just wandering around in a large crowd he will be very hard to find. He will be hiding in plain sight.

In this case 'plain sight' means 'open sight' or 'clear view' or 'easy to see'.


First time I've come across this group, so first time commenter. Ooh, what fun ahead!

I think the "hide in plain sight" concept comes from Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Purloined Letter’ where um, some girl I think, has stolen a letter and has to hide it so as not to get caught with it, and so hides it on the desk, or what ever, in the place where all the incoming mail for the household is kept.


While the term has many meanings, one is of a person acting in a behaviorally contradictory way to hide actions or intent. Like to find your car stolen from your driveway knowing it could have been only done with someone with access to your key fob. While you go to the kitchen to figure out how to proceed, your brother offers to make you breakfast and afterwards help you track down who did it. While knowing full well he, gave the fob key to a third party to allow the car to be stolen. He is "hiding in plain sight", his magnanimous gestures are "camouflage".

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