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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: forest, see, tree

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

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

not see the wood for the trees

BRITISH or

not see the forest for the trees

AMERICAN
If someone can't see the wood for the trees, they are so involved in the details of something that they do not understand or pay attention to the most important parts of it. He often helped those who could not see the wood for the trees reach the correct decision. A picture is emerging of an agency that can't see the forest for the trees.
See also: not, see, tree, wood

cannot see the wood for the trees

fail to grasp the main issue because of over-attention to details.
The North American version of this expression is cannot see the forest for the trees .
See also: cannot, see, tree, wood

not see the ˌwood for the ˈtrees

(British English) (American English not see the ˌforest for the ˈtrees) (informal) not have a clear understanding of a situation because you are only looking at small aspects of it and not considering the situation as a whole: The situation is so complex that many people are unable to see the wood for the trees.
See also: not, see, tree, wood
References in periodicals archive ?
Launched in 2009, ALBA Forestal was supposed to collect and process trees felled by Hurricane Felix, a massive 2007 storm that, according to an INAFOR report, left some US$320 million worth of wood just lying about.
Although Forestal failed to pursue choice-of-law analysis in District Court, the majority considered it unfair to apply the waiver doctrine to a party that did not participate in the appeal.
Se planto el componente forestal Pinus taeda, en el ano 1998.
La expansión de la actividad forestal en el peso de la actividad exportadora se refleja en el comportamiento que tuvo en la década pasada, incrementándose la participación del 48% respecto al 62,7% de la actualidad.
Inventario de los mamiferos de la Reserva Forestal de Ticoporo y la Serrania de los Pijiguaos, Venezuela.
Forestal La Reforma, SA of CV, an Mexican company located at Independence 226-A, Monterrey, Nuevo Leo, Mexico.
The Instituto Nacional Forestal (Inafor) does not regulate or measure charcoal production.
Forestal appears still to be on the upgrade over fences and can defy a 5lb rise in the ratings to land this contest
Forestal finished fourth in the John Hughes Trophy at Aintree this month, and Johnson said: "He will like the good- to-firm ground at Down Royal.
0 million shares of common stock outstanding post-merger with Smith Forestal.
20), and Forestal, who goes well fresh, looks a most interesting proposition in the Glengoyne Highland Malt Handicap Chase (4.
In 2002, the company entered an agreement that will give it management control of the Venezuelan PB and MDF plants of its parent company, Forestal Terranova S.
Address : OnsejerE[degrees]a de Medio Ambiente, Agricultura y Pesca, Servicio de Sanidad Forestal
Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Smith Forestal will merge with and into Senticore, with the shareholders of Smith Forestal receiving in the aggregate 6,308,287 shares of common stock and 7,500 shares of Class A Voting Convertible Preferred Stock of Senticore in exchange for their shares of Smith Forestal.
ENTRIES: Cyborgo, Cyfor Malta, Simply Dashing, Mulligan, Senor El Betrutti, Addington Boy, Or Royal, Challenger du Luc, Bertone, Super Coin, Tamarindo, Callisoe Bay, Pete The Parson, Squire Silk, Potter's Bay, Stormy Passage, Go Universal, Fine Thyne, Anabatic, Jibber The Kibber, Red Marauder, Colonel In Chief, Even Flow, Northern Starlight, Tidebrook, Hoh Warrior, Philip's Woody, Mr Strong Gale, Dr Leunt, Queen Of Spades, Eirespray, Wayward King, All The Aces, Forestal.