Definition of fly on the wall in US English:

fly on the wall

phrase

  • 1An unnoticed observer of a particular situation.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Oh, to be a fly on the wall during all these discussions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘Most contemporary memoirs leave you feeling cheap, like you've been a fly on the wall at a particularly horrific therapy session.’
    • ‘I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in last week's Cabinet meeting.’
    • ‘Should we be a fly on the wall, monitoring the conversations back and forth?’
    • ‘He reveals details of boardroom machinations and backstairs skirmishes which only a fly on the wall could have witnessed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation.’
    observer, spectator, onlooker, watcher, looker-on, viewer, witness, eyewitness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1as modifier Denoting a filmmaking technique whereby events are observed realistically with minimum interference rather than acted out under direction.
      ‘a fly-on-the-wall documentary’
      • ‘Does anyone remember that fly on the wall documentary on channel 4 where some teenage kids looked after real children?’
      • ‘This spoof, fly on the wall, documentary is funny, scary, provocative, disturbing and has a real point to make.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's a simple premise - a fly on the wall documentary in a London beauty salon.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I get increasingly exasperated by TV - cookery, gardening, soaps and fly on the wall documentaries all irritate me.’