hindsight=understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed.

I heard many people (especially business people) use the term "hindsight", but I am not sure when to use it and how to use it correctly?

For example, is it correct to say this sentence?

Steve Jobs just builds things he believe it's great first, then people will understand his products and his ideas later in a hindsight.

So, when and how to use the term "hindsight"?

  • 1
    You use the term "hindsight" when talking about something that wasn't understood at the time that decisions about it were originally being made and opinions about it were originally being formed. In reality just about everything fits this description to some degree, but certain things rise above the mundane. – Hot Licks Dec 29 '14 at 3:56
  • In hindsight, I should have looked both ways before stepping into the street. These medical bills are killing me. – anongoodnurse Dec 29 '14 at 4:42
  • @medica, nice example, I can understand "hindsight" more after reading your example – Tom Dec 29 '14 at 6:22
  • @medica: should have looked behind you, too. But that wouldn't have been hindsight, it would have been foresight. Weird, huh?! – Brian Hitchcock Dec 29 '14 at 7:45
  • By the way, Tom, I would not use an article with "hindsight." It's more a phenomenon or process, rather than an event or occurrence. – moioci Dec 29 '14 at 7:50

Hindsight is a complex word because of the way it is commonly used.

It is important to understand the phrase "Hindsight is 20/20", because it is the most common usage of the word, and that meaning is almost always implied when the word is used alone. "20/20" is a 'perfect' score on a vision test, and is used here to mean both insight and understanding. Hindsight is 20/20 because events always seem obvious and simple when you reflect on what has already happened. It is also used as a reminder that foresight is difficult and complex.

Because of this, "Hindsight" is often used when discussing an action that should have been taken, especially if the consequences are much more obvious now. For instance, someone undergoing a painful dentist appointment might remark "In hindsight, I should have flossed my teeth."

Your example about Steve Jobs doesn't quite work, for a few reasons.

"Steve Jobs just builds things he believe it's great first, then people will understand his products and his ideas later in a hindsight"

There are three ideas here:

Steve Jobs builds things he believes are great. (Since there are many things, we want to use the plural for believe and it's here.)

People will understand his ideas and products later. (We can group the ideas and products together because they are both "his")

[Steve Jobs' decisions will make sense] in hindsight.

To improve this sentence, we want to make it clear that we are talking about one thing - not things, ideas, and products. It should also be clear that the people who understand later were confused at the beginning.

If we use the definition of "hindsight" to mean something that was only obvious later, we might say:

Steve Jobs made a lot of shocking decisions, which in hindsight were understood to be genius.

By saying his decisions were shocking, we establish why people thought they were not genius.

We could say "only later" instead of "in hindsight" here, and it would mean nearly the same thing. However, there is a slight implication when we use "hindsight" that the answer could not have been known at the time, because we do not share Steve's genius.

  • This is a good answer but since the question is asking about usage I feel I need to point out that you can say 'with hindsight' as well as 'in hindsight', just to make sure that people don't think using 'with' is wrong or unusual. – Alan Third Jan 2 '15 at 0:33

As you mentioned hindsight means "the ability to understand an event or situation only after it has happened". For example "Horse Number 4 won the race. In hindsight, I should have put my money on Number 4." Some other examples from Oxford Dictionaries: 1. Playing through Iron Storm was like looking back in hindsight on a historical event. 2. With hindsight, we know how his moral instinct trumped the evidence for the war and its legality. 3. Many times I look back in hindsight and think of how I should have handled a situation.


Perception of the significance and nature of events after they have occurred.

Often we say,If I knew then what I know now.

After the fact we can all see the situation and adjust the way “would have” reacted… If only we had known then what we know now.

Usage:In hindsight, he wondered how he'd ever been fooled or why he'd settle for Claire when there was someone like Sofia out there, who'd love him for him and not for his title.

A simple usage may be
"As we know, with 10-15 years hindsight, this never happened"

  • 4
    This doesn't answer the question "When and how do I use hindsight?" -- it defines what hindsight is. It's also a direct quote which must be correctly cited in an answer. – Andrew Leach Dec 29 '14 at 10:52

In my opinion & understanding below is best answer :

hindsight = looking backward (like foresight = looking forward)


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy