can't see the wood for the trees

can't see the wood for the trees

  (British, American & Australian) also can't see the forest for the trees (American & Australian)
if someone can't see the wood for the trees, they are unable to understand what is important in a situation because they are giving too much attention to details After you've spent years researching a single topic you get to a point where you can't see the wood for the trees.
See also: see, tree, wood
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