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tip of the iceberg

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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.

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Other 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.
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