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.
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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 ?
Now, says one scientist, "We are only scratching the surface of what lice can tell us.
But Tokofsky tempered his praise, adding that he thought the preliminary budget's $149 million in cuts was just scratching the surface of the district's massive spending program.
Atlas, 1994, reproduces a map of Spain out of leftover tinned sardines, a very characteristic food product of Spain during the years of shortage, scratching the surface of nationalistic fervor to reveal what lies beneath it.
All these studies are just scratching the surface of the innerearth.
The application acceleration market is well established in the United States, however, a majority of the technologies are merely scratching the surface of the complicated needs of the enterprise," said Eric Jeux, chief operating officer, Streamcore.
In scratching the surface of this phenomenon, I immediately found six recent books on telecommuting and home businesses.
The business has huge potential and they are really just scratching the surface of the opportunity.
Our constraint entry time has been tremendously reduced, allowing us to get products to market faster and we are only scratching the surface of its capabilities.
Until our relationship with MBSI, we were only scratching the surface of the secondary marketing side," said James Nieman, president, Universal Mortgage.
We believe we are just scratching the surface of Oakley's potential in these four new categories, each of which offers a larger total market than the sunglass business.
We're just scratching the surface of new methods of distribution - especially streaming video and electronic cinematography.
There are a number of technology vendors just scratching the surface of application integration through enterprise backbones, message-oriented middleware, and connectors," noted Martindale.