scratch the surface (of something)

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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.
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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.
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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]
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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.
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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
References in periodicals archive ?
As we enter into 2007, insurers have only begun to scratch the surface of unlocking value from claims business-process outsourcing.
Scratch the surface of many audit plans and you'll find predictable elements that someone bent on fraud can anticipate and foil.
But the two of them are just beginning to scratch the surface of a lethal conspiracy between greedy corporate executives, the Russian Mafia, and Afghani terrorists.
In Los Angeles, we have 3,000 kids on our waiting list for a mentor, and that probably doesn't even scratch the surface of all the kids who could use one,'' said Patrice Thread, executive director of the Los Angeles Mentoring Partnership.
These examples just scratch the surface of the full range of available options.
But the "riddims" of the islands only scratch the surface of what it means to be one planet under a groove.
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.
Chosen for their cheer, those dances just scratch the surface of EDE's sunny side.
Whether it's a mother trying to protect her children from mold-related illness or a business confronting skyrocketing energy costs - we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what nanoscience solutions can do.
Hahn could hold ``Meet the Mayor'' sessions every hour of every day for the rest of his term and he'd barely scratch the surface of City Hall's backlog of unfinished work and unmet needs.
We believe we have only begun to scratch the surface of this untapped market.
The embedded systems community is more than ready to adopt Java technology, but traditional Java solutions only scratch the surface of customer requirements.
TMP Island will provide our clients with a multitude of capabilities--and we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what's possible.
Redstar has just begun to scratch the surface of this large, gold bearing, breccia system in a camp where historically the best grades have been intercepted at depth," comments Scott Weekes, President of Redstar.
We are just beginning to scratch the surface of the Indie market in this country", said Joe Wood, President of RDR Music.