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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

not able to see the forest for the trees

Unable or unwilling to see, understand, or focus on a situation in its entirety due to being preoccupied with minor details. I just feel like he hasn't been able to see the forest for the trees on this project, getting hung up on the most mundane details at the expense of our overall productivity. If you really can't tell that the president's actions are all working toward the greater good of the country, then you're just not able to see the forest for the trees.
See also: able, forest, not, 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

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: forest, see, tree
References in periodicals archive ?
Before 1969, the forestation must have been even lower, around 19% in 1953 (Census of Yugoslavia).
The minister said Turkey had started a forestation campaign in 2008 in that context, and a total of 2.3 million hectares of land would be rehabilitated and planted until 2012.
"We have to focus on adequate and relevant forestation in our those in our coastal areas, mountainous regions, plains or even arid zones, so as to achieve atleast the target of six percent forest cover against 24% cover in most of our neighboring countries," said the minister.
The projects include a 2.5-million-square-meter forestation program near the sewage lake in east Jeddah, and a garbage separation and recycling plant at the new landfill in Asla.
Contrary to popular opinion, the air and water are getting cleaner, cancer rates are decreasing, and forestation is improving.
ANA as been advised by OISCA on previous Aozora forestation projects in Matsuyama, Japan, Myanmar and the Thai island of Phuket.
Pratt stated that in 2004, the Chinese government announced it will spend US$ 24 billion over the next six years in a massive forestation and pulp making program.
Q: What is the meaning of forestation and deforestation?
Major Japanese trading houses are moving to increase the output of pulpwood chips abroad as their attempts to stabilize supply through forestation projects overseas have begun to bear fruit.
He said the association hopes to help North Korea secure adequate water for farmland by promoting forestation.
And the company set up to market the idea, Aerial Forestation of Massachusetts, say planting using C-130 military transport planes will halve the costs of traditional methods.
Falling profits and high prices for forestation land have meant small farmers around Rockchapel on the Cork, Limerick and Kerry borders are being forced out after generations on the land.
Nests in areas with less forestation suffered higher rates of destruction and cowbird invasion, Robinson and his colleagues report.
LAHORE -- To combat pollution, heat and oxygen deficiency, Commissioner Lahore Division Dr Mujtaba Piracha on Saturday inaugurated the first ever urban forestation by planting a sapling here.
LAHORE -- Lahore Commissioner Division Dr Mujtaba Piracha said that Rs 17 million would be transferred from the development schemes under community development programme and that amount would be spent on tree plantation and forestation in districts of Lahore Division.