‘A Bird's Eye View’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Shanea Patterson, updated on March 17, 2023

Have you heard someone say they had a ‘bird’s eye view’ of something, and now you’re wondering what that meant? In this article, we’ll take a look at the definition and origin of the phrase and provide some examples of how to use the phrase correctly in a sentence.

In short:

  • ‘A bird’s eye view’ refers to the ability to look at something from a high angle so that you can see a large area below you.

Essentially, it means to view something from above and have a great view of it, being able to see it in its entirety.

What Does ‘A Bird’s Eye View’ Mean?

‘A bird’s eye view’ means to view something from a high place or angle. This phrase describes what a bird might see as it’s flying in the sky.

People use the phrase ‘a bird’s eye view’ when they have a great view of something from above.

  • For example, if you are on top of the Empire State Building, you’ve got ‘a bird’s eye view’ of the city.

Basically, anytime you’re high enough off the ground to see what a bird might see, you’re getting ‘a bird’s eye view.’

Where Does ‘A Bird’s Eye View’ Come From? 

The phrase ‘a bird’s eye view’ is an idiom phrase that comes from the literal imagery of seeing things the way birds do – from high up in the sky.

There’s not much information about where it came from or how it became so popular in the English language.

We do know that it was used in a speech during the 16th century. In the 19th century, the U.S. and Europe used the term to describe aerial photographic shots. They also used bird’s eye drawings for blueprints, maps, and floor plans.

Before the crewed flight was a common thing, the term ‘bird’s eye’ was also used to tell the difference between views drawn from direct observation at high vantage points from those made from an imagined bird’s perspective.

Examples of ‘A Bird’s Eye View’ in Sentences

How would you use ‘a bird’s eye view’ in a sentence?

  • My penthouse in New York City has a bird’s eye view of the city. It’s been amazing living there with such a view. You should really come by and see it sometime.
  • We got the best tickets in the arena. We have a bird’s eye view of the baseball game. This is pretty cool, don’t you think?
  • In season three of Netflix’s popular show “You,” Joe gets a bird’s eye view of not only the courtyard of his apartment complex but of the city of Los Angeles itself. He tells Delilah that it’s quieter on the top floor when she offers him a first-floor apartment.
  • I don’t know why you would choose a rooftop restaurant if you’re afraid of heights. It’s got a bird’s eye view of the city. Are you going to be okay with that?
  • I love the bird’s eye view you get in an airplane. You can see everything so clearly below, and it all looks so tiny from so high in the sky.
  • We went on a field trip and had a bird’s eye view of the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It was such an amazing sight to see. I want to go back to see it again next year if everyone’s up for it.
  • Standing in my kitchen, I have a bird’s eye view of the backyard below. My son plays out in the backyard sometimes, so I can easily keep an eye on him. I love that about my house.
  • I love being part of such a prestigious organization. The company retreats give us a bird’s eye view of some of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Other Ways to Say ‘A Bird’s Eye View’

What other words and phrases convey the same meaning as ‘a bird’s eye view’?

Here are a few examples:

  • Panorama
  • Great view
  • Perfect view
  • Good view
  • Nice view
  • Aerial perspective
  • Aerial view
  • Pandect
  • Broad view
  • Expansive view
  • Sweeping view
  • Bird’s eye survey
  • Overview
  • Scenery
  • Field of vision
  • Visibility
  • Line of sight
  • Fly on the wall

Concluding Thoughts on ‘A Bird’s Eye View’

To recap, we learned the following:

  • ‘A bird’s eye view’ refers to the ability to look at something from a high angle so that you can see a large area below you.

Essentially, it means to view something from above and have a great view of it in its entirety.

If you ever get stuck on the usage or meaning, you can always come back here for a quick refresher. We’ve got a ton of other content on other Idioms you’ll likely see as you’re learning new words and phrases that make up the English language every day. Go check it out anytime.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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