tip of the iceberg


Only a hint or suggestion of a much larger or more complex issue or problem: “The money missing from petty cash was only the tip of the iceberg of financial mismanagement.” This phrase alludes to the fact that the bulk of a floating iceberg is concealed beneath the water, leaving only a small portion, its tip, visible above.

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Words nearby tip of the iceberg

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 tip of the iceberg

tip of the iceberg

Superficial evidence of a much larger problem, as in Laying off a hundred workers is only the tip of the iceberg. This idiom alludes to the structure of an iceberg, most of whose bulk lies underwater. [Mid-1900s]

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