can't see the forest for the trees


An expression used of someone who is too involved in the details of a problem to look at the situation as a whole: “The congressman became so involved in the wording of his bill that he couldn't see the forest for the trees; he did not realize that the bill could never pass.”

QUIZZES

BECOME A PRO CHEF WITH THIS EXQUISITE CUISINE QUIZ!

Even if you can't be a professional chef, you can at least talk like one with this vocabulary quiz.
Question 1 of 9
You may have read the word "simmer" in a recipe or two, but what does it really mean?
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with can't see the forest for the trees

can't see the forest for the trees

Also, can't see the wood for the trees. Focus only on small details and fail to understand larger plans or principles, as in Alex argues about petty cash and overlooks the budget—he can't see the forest for the trees. This expression was already a proverb in John Heywood's 1546 collection.

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