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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 ?
W&WP: Do you think the results of this study will bring any changes to forestation polities in the selected countries?
As with its other forestation projects undertaken by ANA, this forest will be part of its 'Aozora' programme of corporate social responsibility activities, and will be named the Aozora OISCA Chiang Mai Forest.
Forestation means establishing tree cover on the land, either by planting or seeding trees on land where there are no trees now or on lands where the trees have been cut for wood products.
The forestation project is expected to secure stable sources of materials for paper manufacturing and also to help absorb emissions of carbon dioxide and thus to help alleviate global warming, the companies said.
Dr Walters, a retired professor of forestry who first proposed the idea in a paper he wrote at the University of British Columbia in Canada 25 years ago, was visited at home in England last week by Moshe Alamaro of Aerial Forestation.
Many farmers, crippled by falling beef prices, have sold land for forestation which offers big tax incentives.
After obtaining a master's degree in entomology and a doctorate in wildlife management, he went to work studying game birds for the Nebraska Game, Forestation and Parks Commission.
Nests in areas with less forestation suffered higher rates of destruction and cowbird invasion, Robinson and his colleagues report.
Profits generated from usage of the site are then used to fund worldwide forestation projects.
753 million have been allocated to the Punjab Forest which would be utilized for forestation of blank areas by planting 5.
The PTI-led KP government often comes under fire in the mainstream media pertaining to the said forestation project, which aims to turn around deforestation and increase the province's forested area by at least two per cent.
Contract awarded for Implementation design service of forestation business (tree forest reproduction) in 2018
They said that all city-district governments should earmark certain percentage of land in their areas for forestation.
According to plansAaAeAeA all trees should planted within three forestation seasons - by the end of 2018.
PA urged people to participate in forestation campaign with full enthusiasm and further added plantation will reduce pollution.