Definition of fly on the wall in English:

fly on the wall


  • 1An unnoticed observer of a particular situation.

    • ‘Oh, to be a fly on the wall during all these discussions.’
    • ‘I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in last week's Cabinet meeting.’
    • ‘Most contemporary memoirs leave you feeling cheap, like you've been a fly on the wall at a particularly horrific therapy session.’
    • ‘It is very disconcerting to be a fly on the wall as a band figures out what musical style best suits them (something that is generally determined before the studio album is recorded).’
    • ‘Should we be a fly on the wall, monitoring the conversations back and forth?’
    • ‘Women are born with the instinctive knowledge that men would love to snoop on our lunch conversations, or be a fly on the wall when we nip to the ladies for a little light synchronised nose-powdering.’
    • ‘I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation.’
    • ‘They will report back in six months with their recommendations, but, oh, to be a fly on the wall as this little lot get around the table.’
    • ‘He reveals details of boardroom machinations and backstairs skirmishes which only a fly on the wall could have witnessed.’
    • ‘If you were a fly on the wall at last Wednesday's annual general meeting in Limerick you could not fail to have been impressed by the way he withstood heckling from farmer shareholders.’
    observer, spectator, onlooker, watcher, looker-on, viewer, witness, eyewitness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1as modifier Denoting a film-making technique whereby events are recorded realistically with minimum interference rather than acted out under direction.
      ‘a fly-on-the-wall documentary’
      • ‘This is a ‘fly on the wall’ film in which we get to see the 3 band members in all their true colours.’
      • ‘You take a very fly-on-the-wall approach which allows the viewer to form their own opinions.’
      • ‘Does anyone remember that fly on the wall documentary on channel 4 where some teenage kids looked after real children?’
      • ‘The English actor detests reality TV, but admits he may have to appear in a fly-on-the-wall show if his acting career dries up.’
      • ‘I get increasingly exasperated by TV - cookery, gardening, soaps and fly on the wall documentaries all irritate me.’
      • ‘This spoof, fly on the wall, documentary is funny, scary, provocative, disturbing and has a real point to make.’
      • ‘It's a simple premise - a fly on the wall documentary in a London beauty salon.’