be the tip of the iceberg

be the tip of the iceberg

To be only a small, often unrepresentative portion of something much larger or more complex that cannot yet be seen or understood. If Congress doesn't vote to extend the debt limit, a government shutdown will be the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the country will have to deal with. With mobile apps, you have to account for replay value, monetization, ad revenue, and how much the players will spread the game to their friends. Making a fun game is really just the tip of the iceberg!
See also: iceberg, of, tip

the tip of an (or the) iceberg

the small perceptible part of a much larger situation or problem which remains hidden.
This phrase refers to the fact that only about one fifth of the mass of an iceberg is visible above the surface of the sea.
1998 New Scientist This leaves pressure groups wondering whether there are further breaches still waiting to be discovered. Sue Mayer of Gene Watch asks: ‘Is it the tip of the iceberg?’
See also: iceberg, of, tip

be the tip of the ˈiceberg

what you can see of a problem or difficult situation is only one small part of a much larger hidden problem: The 1 000 homeless people in London sleeping in night shelters are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many thousands of homeless people in the capital.
Only 1/7 or 1/8 of an iceberg can be seen above the water.
See also: iceberg, of, tip
References in periodicals archive ?
I am a realist and not a pessimist, but I am prepared to say that based on my knowledge Jamie Oliver's loss is most likely just going to be the tip of the iceberg. We have already seen a plethora of restaurants close and some in our own city, but I prophesise that many more closures will follow Jamie's restaurant empire collapse.
we believe they could just be the tip of the iceberg.'
The current flow of up to 8,000 migrants each day into Europe may only be the tip of the iceberg and governments must work to bring an end to the Syrian civil war to prevent bigger moves of people, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: "Any incident of drugs on school premises is worrying as it will often only be the tip of the iceberg of what young people are encountering on the streets.
Mr Franks said: "Clearly, the number of incidents being discovered may be the tip of the iceberg. The rise in prisoners gaining access to Facebook in just a month suggests that monitoring has only been rigorously carried out since it was revealed that some prisoners were using the site to taunt victims."
Mr Shaw added: "This may only be the tip of the iceberg. In all my 26 years experience as an operational firefighter I am only aware of one workplace survey into the noise pollution experienced by firefighters, and especially pump operators.
We agree and note that the observed inhibition of efflux transporter activity by the musks may be the tip of the iceberg. As with the musks, there may be many chemicals that by themselves are not toxic but similarly inhibit the efflux transporters and thereby expose the organism to normally excluded toxicants.
But he fears it may just be the tip of the iceberg for small community churches with many more staring closure in the face.
Most worringly, the financial experts say the 2002 total is "likely to be the tip of the iceberg" and predict hundreds more firms will go bust this year - leading to more big job losses.
"At this stage we cannot release further details as this could be the tip of the iceberg.