A massive body of floating ice that has broken away from a glacier or ice field. Most of an iceberg lies underwater, but because ice is not as dense as water, about one ninth of it remains above the surface.
Cultural definitions for tip of the iceberg (1 of 2)
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.
Cultural definitions for tip of the iceberg (2 of 2)
A large piece of ice that has broken away from a glacier at the shore and floated out to sea.
notes for iceberg
Most of the ice in an iceberg is underwater, leaving only the “tip of the iceberg” visible — a fact that is often alluded to in discussions of subjects in which the most important aspects are hidden from view.
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]