strain at a gnat(redirected from straining at a gnat)
strain at a gnat
To exaggerate or put too much focus on a minor issue and make it seem like a major one. You got one B and you're acting like you're failing the class. You're straining at a gnat, if you ask me. This is just a minor setback, so let's not strain at a gnat.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
strain at a gnatLITERARY
If someone strains at a gnat, they concern themselves with something small and unimportant, sometimes failing to deal with something much more important. People worry over tiny differences in the fat content of food while eating huge quantities of sugar. It's a classic case of straining at a gnat. Note: You can also say that someone strains at a gnat and swallows a camel, with the same meaning. One must be wary of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. Note: This expression comes from the Bible. Jesus used it when criticizing the scribes and the Pharisees for being too concerned with unimportant areas of the Jewish law. (Matthew 23:24)
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
strain at a gnatmake a difficulty about accepting something trivial. literary
The phrase derives from Matthew 23:24, ‘Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel’. The word strain here appears to mean ‘make a violent effort’, but it may in fact refer to the straining of a liquid to remove unwanted particles: the image is of a person quietly accepting a difficulty or problem of significant proportions while baulking at something comparatively trivial.
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