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cannot see the wood for the trees

 and cannot see the forest for the trees
Prov. Cannot perceive the overview or important things because of concentrating too much on details. The information presented in this textbook is so disorganized that I can't see the wood for the trees. The politician's opponents claimed that she couldn't see the forest for the trees, because she spent so much time trying to solve minor problems.
See also: cannot, see, tree, wood

not able to see the forest for the trees

Cliché allowing many details of a situation to obscure the situation as a whole. (Not able to is often expressed as can't.) The solution is obvious. You missed it because you can't see the forest for the trees. She suddenly realized that she hadn't been able to see the forest for the trees.
See also: able, forest, not, see, tree

not see the forest for the trees

to pay too much attention to details and not understand the general situation not see the wood for the trees Company officials were so involved in the talks, they couldn't see the forest for the trees and didn't realize their employees were willing to strike.
See also: forest, not, see, tree

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

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.
See also: forest, see, tree