Slang dictionary

would you look at that

or Would you look at that? or well would you look at that [wuh d yoo loo k at th at]

What does would you look at that mean?

Would you look at that is a rhetorical question or interjection used to variously comment on something surprising, frustrating, puzzling, or enticing as well as something cynically expected or counter to one’s expectations.  

Where does would you look at that come from?

would you look at that

The exact origins of would you look at that are unclear, apparently emerging in colloquial speech from the literal question Would you look at that?. The phrase implies that someone can’t believe their eyes, asking others if they, too, are witnessing some incredible spectacle.

Online, would you look at that started showing up as early as 1990, used much as it was in casual speech before it. The phrase was popularized, however, in late 2010, when comedian Ed Bassmaster uploaded a series of YouTube videos where he led unsuspecting people through entire conversations by mainly repeating “Well would you look at that?” and “Look at this!” His videos received tens of millions of views, inspiring memes and a surge in search interest in January, 2011.

Around 2015, a new meme started appearing where people would search something like “someone better than me” in their phone’s maps app, screen-capture the “No results found” error message, and post it with the caption Well would you look at that?

Examples of would you look at that

well would you look at that. about nap o’clock  
@ke10__, March, 2018
Would You Look at That? Anti-Abortion Laws Don’t Actually Reduce Abortions
Susan Rinkunas, The Cut (title), May ,2016
Well, would you look at that… Despite old white Oscar voters refusing to even watch it, Get Out still won for Best Screenplay 💁🏾‍♀️💅🏽 #Oscars
@brwneyedamzn, March, 2018

Who uses would you look at that?

Would you look at that is widely used in both speech and writing. Online, it is typically paired with a link or image. The expression is often prefaced with a discourse marker (e.g., Well, would you look at that, or Huh, would you look at that). 

As a rhetorical question, would you look at that seldom asks someone to literally inspect something. Rather, it’s variously used in reaction to something mildly fascinating, puzzling, or annoying, often with a hint of exaggeration or politeness. As such, would you look at that can come across as sarcastic.

Would you look at that also enjoys some subtler uses. It’s sometimes used in the fulfillment of some expectation (e.g., “Would you look at that. I told you you’d move back home”). Conversely, people may use would you look at that when their doubts are proven wrong (e.g., “Well, would you look at that. Bill showed up to the wedding after all”).

People also sometimes use the expression when they want to give themselves permission to some small indulgence, as if the opportunity to do so only just presented itself (e.g., “Would you look at that. The last slice of pizza and no one else around to eat it”). As such, would you look at that can come across as sarcastic or gloating, so be mindful of tone when using the expression. 

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of would you look at that like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of would you look at that that will help our users expand their word mastery.