Suppose I want to say that I have seen a wild lion in nature. I want to exclude the conditions that someone may have seen a wild lion in TV shows, pictures, dreams, or have heard about them from others, or have seen a wild lion from a very very long distance that almost could not have see any detail of it.

Which ones of the following sentences convey this meaning correctly? Can you suggest any other alternatives?

1 I have seen a wild lion by my own eyes.

2 I have seen a wild lion up-close.

3 I have seen a wild lion close up.

4 I have seen a wild lion closely.

5 Personally, I have seen a wild lion.

6 I have seen a wild lion in person.

7 I have seen a wild lion myself.

  • 1
    The dictionary says that up-close is mainly British. Either that or close up are idiomatic (but would you really be that close to a wild lion?). I think I have seen a lion in the wild would be the most natural. If you want to stress that it was fairly near you could say I had a good view [of it]. Oct 15, 2022 at 12:29
  • 1
    [at a relatively close distance]
    – Lambie
    Oct 15, 2022 at 21:33

4 Answers 4


I saw a lion with my own eyes.

see something with your own eyes idiom

to see something yourself, especially when it is something that you would not believe to exist or be true if you did not see it:

  • They took all the money and left. I saw it with my own eyes.
  • You saw with your own eyes how much he's changed.

Cambridge Dictionary_Idiom_ to see something with my own eyes

  • 1
    OP wants a sentence that "only a person who has seen the lion in the flesh in the wild can say" and which "cannot be said by a person who has seen a lion in the wild on TV". Your sentence does not do that. A person says "I saw a lion with my own eyes.": "How?" asks the second person: "On TV" says the first.
    – banuyayi
    Oct 16, 2022 at 6:05
  • In my opinion you have to have to use "in the flesh" to get a sentence that OP wants.
    – banuyayi
    Oct 16, 2022 at 6:05
  • 1
    @banuyayi No, it cannot refer to TV. You, my friend, are mistaken.
    – Lambie
    Oct 16, 2022 at 14:06
  • 1
    @banuyayi No, "with my own eyes" is an idiomatic expression that means "directly", as in, "not through a TV camera". It's great that you want to participate and help out here, but people asking questions here expect that those answering them know what they're talking about, and it seems you're often guessing. Please make sure your answers and opinions are correct before interacting
    – gotube
    Oct 16, 2022 at 17:21
  • 1
    @banuyayi Sure, people have said it, but the frequency is microscopic. And in the context of seeing a lion, obviously it means in person, as everyone has seen a lion on TV
    – gotube
    Oct 17, 2022 at 5:20

There's a lot of things you want to say in one sentence, so there isn't a single expression that means all of those together when applied to just "I have seen a lion".

I have seen a wild lion up close.

This uses two expressions, "wild" and "up close", but it removes all ambiguity that it was on TV or in a zoo, or a great distance away.

  • Don't "in person" or "personally" work in this context?
    – alireza
    Oct 15, 2022 at 20:29
  • 1
    "In person" works, but it could mean from a great distance, or at the zoo, not in the wild. "Personally" doesn't mean the opposite of on TV. It means you, as opposed to someone else, so it's the wrong word entirely
    – gotube
    Oct 15, 2022 at 20:52
  • "In person" is better used with two people. My opinion.
    – banuyayi
    Oct 16, 2022 at 6:06
  • @banuyayi Nothing about "in person" means two people.
    – gotube
    Oct 16, 2022 at 16:18
  • Okay. Are "He sprinkled water on the man in person" and "He sprinkled water on the dog in person" equally idiomatic? Or "He met Jack the worker in person" and "He met Jack the dog in person"?
    – banuyayi
    Oct 16, 2022 at 16:54

To make absolutely clear that you have seen a wild lion with your own eyes in the wild, and not in picture or audio-visual media, you will have to elaborate a little.

No room for ambiguity in these sentences

  1. I have seen a free and wild lion in the flesh "at close range" (or "up-close" or "up close") in the wild.

  2. I have seen a free and wild lion up close and personal in the wild. (It's a bit too much)

A little room for ambiguity here

  1. In the wild, I have seen a lion "at close range" (or "up-close" or "up close").

  2. In the wild, I have seen a lion in the flesh "at close range" (or "up-close" or "up close").

  • Explanation as to how can there be a little room for ambiguity in the sentences above. If a lion is kept in a cage in the wild the two sentences above would not be wrong. But nobody would do such a thing. So they can be used normally to mean to have seen wild lion in the wild without any intermediate media.

In the flesh (The Free Dictionary by FARLEX) Physically present, as opposed to appearing or communicating via a medium such as video; in person.

Up close and personal (The Free Dictionary by FARLEX) : adjective, Very physically close to someone or something. Hyphenated if used before a noun.: adjective Very intimate and personal, especially to an uncomfortable or unwanted degree. Hyphenated if used before a noun.: adverb, In a very close and intimate manner or to such a degree.


English is a different and difficult language. It contains more words than any other language, and it is universal, so it applies to many different cultures.

In the Western world, from a legal perspective, if one wishes to emphasize an actual sighting of something, the term witness is used. "I witnessed a lion near me!"

To native English speakers that sentence sounds atypical or uncommon, but it is the proper way to express an actual sighting. OED

  • 1
    Whence the "OED"?
    – Joachim
    Oct 16, 2022 at 6:16
  • Whence means 'from where'. That's a dubious question. Try looking up witness.
    – Brian
    Oct 16, 2022 at 23:06
  • I know. I was asking where that abbreviation suddenly came from (I know what it stands for, but I don't see an immediate relation with any of the previous).
    – Joachim
    Oct 17, 2022 at 7:27
  • "It is universal". Wherever did you pick up that idea?? Your entire first paragraph is very mistaken.
    – Lambie
    Oct 17, 2022 at 14:54
  • English is universal.All air-traffic control instructions must be in English. The official business language of the world is English. Pretty much everywhere one goes in the world, there will be English speakers. I'm pretty sure if common sense and self-evident truth, two things for which there are no references, were not excluded from the discussions, the board would gain from it. Where in the OED is the word witness? C'mon! It's the dictionary. It's in alphabetical order! It's not online. But anyone studying the English language from any serious perspective should have a copy.
    – Brian
    Oct 21, 2022 at 22:34

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