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 ?
"Garry has barely scratched the surface of what he can do," said Dempsey.
If you're like most people about my age, you probably first discovered singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff with "Somebody's Eyes,'' on the "Footloose'' soundtrack, but that just scratched the surface of her talent and varied songbook.
Citizen Kane, it seems, only scratched the surface of Hearst's eccentricities.
After only a year an a half they are netting $1,500 per month and have not scratched the surface of possibilites.
We have only scratched the surface of the amazing potential that a document-generating expert system can provide.
"Summer 2004 confirmed the potential fiscal and aesthetic benefits of Oceanfront Asbury for the City of Asbury Park, and we have only scratched the surface of what is to come," said Larry Fishman, chief operating officer for Asbury Partners, LLC, the city-appointed master developer for Oceanfront Asbury.
TRANMERE Rovers have only scratched the surface of their potential in the early games of the new season, Richard Hill believes.
Unemployment officially stood at 12 percent in Brazil and 10 percent in India--but with so many self-employed urban and rural poor these numbers only scratched the surface of despair.
"We have just scratched the surface of the potential," Douglas explains.
Looking back to his involvement with the now silent shipyards, he reflects, 'Our efforts, though worthy in themselves, had barely scratched the surface of the problem, as there were economic and political factors, which were totally beyond our control.' He considers the possibility that if major decisions had been made closer to home things might have turned out differently.
TRIPLE Olympic champion Marion Jones has said she has barely scratched the surface of what she wanted to achieve.
TRIPLE Olympic champion Marion Jones, 1-5 with Stan James to win the women's 100m at the Van Damme Memorial meeting in Brussels tonight, insists she has barely scratched the surface of what she wanted to achieve, writes Adrian Humphries.
The problem is that we have scarcely scratched the surface of these practices and do not understand what is really involved in them.
The research into city microclimates has just scratched the surface of a complex and important scientific endeavor making space for trees and making good use of that space.