You hear insurance commercials say "the big picture" over and over again. The narrator wants you to know that paying for car or health insurance now helps you later, but first, you must see "the big picture" of how the insurance company fits into your life. In the same way, synonyms for "the big picture" mean looking beyond the present or peering through a wider lens at the world around you. These synonyms also take on philosophical meanings and apply to other concepts besides terminology related to business, such as weight loss, science discoveries, building construction or existentialism.
In "the big picture," you want to know how something looks when all the pieces fit together, as with a jigsaw puzzle's final "picture." In an "overall view," you see the sum of all the points wrapped up into a general point that ties everything together. People use "overall view" to sum up how something looks in the end, such as a building in the midst of construction, which interchanges with "the big picture." For example, "The overall view of the new shopping plaza shows off modern architecture with convenient parking and plenty of rental space."
The Meaning of Life
Another synonym for "the big picture" is "the meaning of life," as in when you think about "the big picture" of your life, you see certain goals for yourself in the future, such as a better job, significant other or climbing Mount Everest. "The meaning of life" also reveals how you view your station and the world around you. Where you fit in "the big picture" of life defines the ways you choose to live and how you see friends, family and co-workers. "The meaning of life" and "the big picture" in these applications refer to the philosophical question of why human beings exist and the purpose of each person's life, though everyone's reasoning is different.
The Larger Perspective
While you want to focus on improvement in small areas, you often hear things like see "the big picture" or "the larger perspective" to motivate you along the way, such as a person who struggles daily with eating habits. Business professionals also use "the larger perspective" to open projects up to more possibilities, such as a small community project that has the potential to work in other parts of the world as a global business. In "the larger perspective," the small choices they make every day lead to brighter ending. The two expressions mean the same thing with respect to looking beyond what is in front of you. For example, a scientist often looks through a microscope to study the tiniest of organisms, but he chooses to study the organism while answering questions about what plants or animals the organism affects, how that organism lives in the world or exists in "the larger perspective." Understanding how the organism works on a smaller level contributes to the answer that the scientist seeks for how the organism lives.
In the Grand Scheme of Things
As people use "the big picture" to direct someone's focus off something small or insignificant, so does the phrase "in the grand scheme of things." For example, "in the grand scheme of things, whether or not Julia Roberts gets her navel pierced bears no relevance on whether or not she plays her part well in the movie 'Mona Lisa Smile.'" People use this phrase interchangeably with "the big picture" to bring attention to a greater relevance or pertinent subject, such as whether Julia Roberts took art history lessons to play her role as an art teacher in the movie, in which the phrase takes on a new meaning, "In the grand scheme of things, 'Mona Lisa Smile' benefits from the real quality of Julia's art history knowledge -- she played her role well as an artistic role model for young women in the early 20th century."
C.K. Adams has worked in the newspaper and publishing field since 2003. Specializing in literature, education, crafts and science, she contributes to the University of Florida's fiction collective and "Tea Magazine." Adams earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida.