scratch the surface


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scratch the surface (of something)

To do, engage with, or understand something to only a minimal or superficial degree. I know you feel like you know everything about philosophy now, but this introductory course only scratches the surface. Jack never felt satisfied devoting his time and attention to one thing, so instead he's scratched the surface of a number of hobbies and interests.
See also: scratch, surface

scratch the surface

 
1. Lit. to scratch something just on the surface, not extending the mark below the finish into the wood, stone, marble, below. There is no serious damage done to the bench. You only scratched the surface.
2. Fig. to just begin to find out about something; to examine only the superficial aspects of something. The investigation of the governor's staff revealed some suspicious dealing. It is thought that the investigators have just scratched the surface. We don't know how bad the problem is. We've only scratched the surface.
See also: scratch, surface

scratch the surface

Investigate or treat something superficially, as in This feed-the-hungry program only scratches the surface of the problem, or Her survey course barely scratches the surface of economic history. This metaphoric term transfers shallow markings made in a stone or other material to a shallow treatment of a subject or issue. [Early 1900s]
See also: scratch, surface

scratch the surface

COMMON If you only scratch the surface of something, you deal with or benefit from a very small part of something much bigger. The council have managed to provide housing for over ten thousand homeless people but they say they have only scratched the surface of the problem. At 13, her potential as a player is enormous and she has only scratched the surface of what she can do.
See also: scratch, surface

scratch the surface

1 deal with a matter only in the most superficial way. 2 initiate the briefest investigation to discover something concealed.
See also: scratch, surface

scratch the ˈsurface (of something)

deal with, understand, or find out about only a small part of a subject or problem: This report only scratches the surface of the problem. OPPOSITE: get to the bottom of something
See also: scratch, surface

scratch the surface

To investigate or treat something in superficial or preliminary fashion.
See also: scratch, surface

scratch the surface, to

To perform a task or investigate something superficially. This term comes from agriculture, where merely scratching the surface of the earth does not adequately prepare the soil for planting. It was transferred to other activities by the early 1900s. “You haven’t seen anything. They didn’t scratch the surface here,” wrote Lillian Hellman (Days to Come, 1936).
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References in periodicals archive ?
These examples just scratch the surface of the full range of available options.
(In June the Harris government confirmed that private schools should get a tax credit.) "Scratch the surface of some of these private schools (and) you will find homophobic beliefs."
'I've been married a long time, 21 years, and I'm just starting to scratch the surface of what women really want.
Sure, museum attendance is booming nationwide, but scratch the surface of the American scene and you discover a full-fledged cultural meltdown.
This was the source of my primary (though minor) discomfort with the book: As truthful as she seems hell-bent on being about the rest of us, she does no more than scratch the surface of her own polymorphous perversity.
Scratch the surface of many working mums and underneath the holding-it-altogether exterior you'll find a woman who has juggling down to such a fine art she could join Billy Smart's.
SCRATCH the surface of toff David Cameron's Tories and an unpleasant party lurks beneath the glossy image.
I am just starting to scratch the surface of what makes me happy, and it has taken me a while to admit that acting like a child and a jerk is fun - Leonardo DiCaprio
"We believe we have only begun to scratch the surface of this untapped market."
The number of drivers caught shows that this kind of behaviour is still widespread, and a one-day crackdown will only scratch the surface of the problem.
But,overall, there was too much niceness and not nearly enough nastiness, with the whole exercise only appearing to scratch the surface of their relationship of many layers.
This will still only scratch the surface of the problem, though.
EXTRA cash for nursing care will barely scratch the surface of the funding crisis faced by homes for the elderly, it has been claimed.