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can't see beyond the end of one's nose.

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Also, can't see farther than the end of one's nose. Lack foresight, envisioning only immediate events or problems, as in Thomas hasn't hired an orchestra for the Christmas concert; he just can't see beyond the end of his nose. This expression originated as a French proverb that was frequently cited in English from about 1700 on. Alexander Pope used a similar expression in his Essay on Man (1734): “Onward still he goes, Yet ne'er looks forward further than his nose.”

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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