I was wondering if the following idioms mean exactly the same thing:

Be (as) plain as the nose on your face: to be very obvious.
stand/stick out a mile: to be very obvious or easy to see.

a. It's as plain as the nose on his face that he's lying.
b. It (sticks / stands) out a mile that he's lying.

If they have some nuances (especially in AE,) please let me know abut it.

  • They're basically the same thing, they sound like "that person is definitely lying" rather than "that person might be lying. However, I would be more likely to use the first idiom. I probably have used the second one before, but it's not something I would use on a regular basis. I have nothing wrong with it, it's just personal preference.
    – Bodrov
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 12:15

2 Answers 2


Yes, they both mean 'obvious', but slightly different usages.

"As plain as the nose on your face" means that something should be obviously apparent/true. We tend to say this when someone has not noticed something glaringly obvious that is 'right in front of them'.

-"You really think John and Jane are having an affair?"
-"Yes! It's as plain as the nose on your face!"

"Stand out a mile" means that something is conspicuous. We tend to use this to mean someone or something is sure to get noticed.

-"Do you think anyone will notice me?"
-"Wearing that red t-shirt, you'll stand out a mile".

  • Just out of curiosity @Astralbee, based on what you mentioned, I think in the following sentences, just the used idioms work and not my other offered choice. Please confirm my take on your statements by acknowledging the correctness of my examples: "1. It stands / sticks out a mile that you're not from here. You look like southerns." &&& "2. How do you know he's British? --- Stands / sticks out a mile."
    – A-friend
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 15:06
  • @A-friend Not really. Firstly, 'stands out a mile' tends to mean visibly obvious. Is the person obviously not local because of their outward appearance or behaviour, or their accent? But also, it is the person or thing 'that stands / sticks out a mile', not the 'fact'. For example, "It's obvious you aren't from round here - you stand out a mile".
    – Astralbee
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 18:35
  • Well @Astralbee then we should say: "How do you know he's British? --- He / his accent / his look / his appearance stands / sticks out a mile." Right?
    – A-friend
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 18:53
  • @A-friend Have a look at some examples idioms.thefreedictionary.com/sticks+out+a+mile
    – Astralbee
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 19:22
  • I've already looked them all over @Astralbee. But I need to know about these specific cases.
    – A-friend
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 19:42

Both idiomatic expressions can be used to mean it's clear that someone is lying, but the they have different grammatical structures and meanings.

The meaning of "plain as the nose on your face" is "obviously true". The phrase can only be used to describe statements of fact. "He's lying" is a statement of fact. This sentence means: "'He's lying' is obviously true."

The meaning of "stands out a mile" is "highly contrasting to the background", or "easy to identify/pick out from among many". It can be used of anything in any context, not just statements. The sentence means, "Compared to all the things we hear people say every day, it is easy to identify that he's lying."

For an example that contrasts the two expressions, consider someone who attends a formal party wearing pyjamas. You could say, "She sticks/stands out a mile" because she is dressed so different to everyone else at the party. However, you could not say "She is plain as the nose on your face" because "she" isn't a statement, so it makes no sense to say she's "clearly true".

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