can't see the forest/wood(s) for the trees

can't see the forest for the trees

Cannot see, understand, or focus on a situation in its entirety due to being preoccupied with minor details. The way he's obsessing over one doorknob when we're renovating the entire house makes me think that he can't see the forest for the trees.
See also: for, forest, see, tree

can't see the wood for the trees

Cannot see, understand, or focus on a situation in its entirety due to being preoccupied with minor details. The way he's obsessing over one doorknob when we're renovating the entire house makes me think that he can't see the wood for the trees.
See also: for, see, tree, wood
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

can't see the forest/wood(s) for the trees

Focusing on small details makes one overlook the large picture. John Heywood’s proverb collection in 1546 has it, “Ye cannot see the wood for the trees.” A modern twist was provided by C. S. Lewis in a critique of William Golding’s novel, The Inheritors: “All those little details you only notice in real life if you’ve got a high temperature. You couldn’t see the wood for the leaves.”
See also: for, forest, see, tree
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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