How can say that something was very difficult not to be noticed?

I was thinking of the opposite of "I could barely notice that." on the lines of "I could not not notice that." which doesn't seem correct (too much not in row). Is there a better way to say what I am trying to say?

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    I could not help but notice that ... COLLOQUIAL VERSION: I couldn't help noticing that ... Feb 16, 2013 at 0:35
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    '...could not not' doesn't work, but couldn't not is used in conversation: "Your eyes must be good. How did you notice that car?" "Whaddaya mean? I couldn't not notice it. It's a Ferrari."
    – mcalex
    Feb 16, 2013 at 2:17
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    "If it was a snake it would have bit you!" ;) This is actually a common phrase, but have warning that it should be used only to joke around with someone you know well. Otherwise someone could take offense.
    – WendiKidd
    Feb 16, 2013 at 17:07

5 Answers 5


Sometimes the word help is inserted to convey this thought:

I couldn't help but notice that ketchup on your chin.

The leading words can vary; one might say I can't help but notice, or he couldn't help but notice. Cannot and could not are sometimes used as well.

You can find several instances of this phrase if you peruse this list.

An Ngram would suggest that this particular wording is relatively contemporary, at least in terms of its popularity:

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  • Can I reply with "I could not help but noticing it" to somebody who asks me "How did you notice that detail on that car?"
    – apaderno
    Feb 16, 2013 at 15:02
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    @kiamlaluno Yes, but either remove the 'but' or change noticing to notice.
    – mcalex
    Feb 16, 2013 at 15:39

I would say that this something was glaring, blatant or flagrant.

Or "I couldn't help noticing that", as was suggested in a comment.


There is an idiom that something obvious is as plain as the nose on your face. It is defined as:

to be very obvious -- There's no doubt that he's interested in her. It's as plain as the nose on your face.*


You could say it was clearly visible or that it was right in front of you.


For completeness and if you don't mind resorting to the, ahem, slightly less formal:

It sticks/stuck out like dogs' balls

is quite common in this part of the world with a tally of 113 on this list (warning: explicit language)

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