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more/bigger/greater than the sum of its parts

Describes something made up of a large collection of things or people in which the total unit is more important, impressive, successful, etc., than its components are individually. America is certainly bigger than the sum of its parts. The global social networking site, so intrinsically connected to and supported by users, is certainly more than just the sum of its parts.
See also: big, greater, more, of, part, sum

zero-sum game

A situation, process, competition, or outcome in which the winner's gain is exactly equal to the loser's loss. Poker is a zero-sum game because the amount of money won by one player is equivalent to the amount lost by the other players.
See also: game

in sum

As a final brief, concluding point. In sum, if we do not address this issue now, it will become insurmountable in a few years' time.
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sum up

To give a brief and accurate summary, description, assessment, or representation of something; to summarize. A noun or pronoun can be used between "sum" and "up." To sum up, we need to reduce our expenditures and target new markets in order to grow. I feel like the book sums up everything I've been feeling since we moved. I can sum the project up in just three words: "Waste of time."
See also: sum, up

be more/bigger/greater than the sum of its parts

Describes something made up of a large collection of things or people in which the total unit is more important, impressive, successful, etc., than its components are individually. America is certainly bigger than the sum of its parts. The global social networking site, so intrinsically connected to and supported by users, is certainly more than just the sum of its parts.
See also: big, greater, more, of, part, sum

the sum and substance

The central or most important idea, aspect, or part of something; the essence or summary of something. We don't have much time for this board meeting, so let's just get to the sum and substance straight away. The sum and substance of her argument is that a redistribution of wealth would spur the economy into huge gains.
See also: and, substance, sum

sum total

Everything taken together; the entirety. Your thesis should be the sum total of everything you learned and researched throughout the year. If this is the sum total of your efforts, then we may need to seriously reevaluate your place in this business.
See also: sum, total

sum and substance

a summary; the gist. Can you quickly tell me the sum and substance of your proposal? In trying to explain the sum and substance of the essay, Thomas failed to mention the middle name of the hero.
See also: and, substance, sum

sum (something) up

to give a summary of something. I would like to sum this lecture up by listing the main points I have covered. It is time for me to sum up. She summed up the president's speech in three sentences.
See also: sum, up

sum and substance

The essence or gist of something, as in The sum and substance of their platform is financial conservatism. This redundant expression-both sum and substance here mean "essence"-has probably survived owing to alliteration. Shakespeare used it in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (4:1): "My riches are these poor habiliments [clothes], Of which if you should here disfurnish me, You take the sum and substance that I have."
See also: and, substance, sum

sum total

The entirety, everything, as in I spent all day in the kitchen and the sum total of my efforts is this cake. [Mid-1600s]
See also: sum, total

sum up

Present the substance of, summarize, as in They always sum up the important news in a couple of minutes, or That expletive sums up my feelings about the matter. [Early 1600s]
See also: sum, up

a zero-sum game

JOURNALISM
If a situation is a zero-sum game, the advantage that one person gains from it must have an equal disadvantage for someone else. The idea that foreign investment is a zero-sum game — that one country's gain is another's loss — is mistaken. Note: Other nouns are sometimes used instead of game. According to Reed, employee benefits are a zero-sum gain. If costs for one benefit rise, it's often at the expense of another, such as paid vacation and health insurance. Note: A zero-sum game is one in which the winnings and losses of all the players add up to zero.
See also: game

be greater/more than the ˌsum of its ˈparts

be better or more effective as a group than you would think just by looking at the individual members of the group: After their victory, the captain was full of praise for his team, saying that it was a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
See also: greater, more, of, part, sum

in ˈsum

(formal) used to introduce a short statement of the main points of a discussion, speech, etc: In sum, there are significant gaps in technological development across countries.
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sum up

v.
1. To present the substance of something in a condensed form; summarize something: At the end of the radio program, they sum up the day's news. Here's what I learned—I'll sum it up for you. At the end of the lecture, the professor summed up.
2. To describe or assess something concisely: This poem sums up my feelings perfectly.
3. To add some set of numbers together: The teacher challenged the students to sum up the numbers from 1 to 100 as fast as possible. I wrote down all of our expenses for the week and summed them up.
4. To calculate something, especially by addition: We need to sum up our total costs for this trip. I'm sure this answer is correct—I summed it up myself.
See also: sum, up