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scrape (someone or something) up off (something)

To peel or gather something or someone up from some surface, such as the floor or the road, especially when that person or thing is or seems to be stuck to it. I passed out after drinking at the party until 6 AM, and I had to be scraped up off the floor the next morning. I spent about an hour last night scraping dried pizza cheese up off the carpet.
See also: off, scrape, up

skim 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 skims the surface. Jack never felt satisfied devoting his time and attention to one thing, so instead he's skimmed the surface of a number of hobbies and interests.
See also: skim, surface

look beneath the surface

To focus on the deeper aspects of something, as opposed to the traits that are most easily identified. When you write your book reports, please look beneath the surface of the text and analyze the author's stylistic choices.
See also: beneath, look, surface

raise someone or something to the surface (of something)

to bring someone or something up to the surface of a body of water. The pull of the inflatable life vest raised Tom to the surface of the water. The divers were able to raise the sunken ship to the surface.
See also: raise, surface

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.
See also: scratch, surface

on the surface

Superficially, to all outward appearances, as in On the surface he appeared brave and patriotic, but his troops knew better. [Early 1700s]
See also: on, surface

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]
See also: scratch, surface

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.
See also: scratch, surface

scratch the surface

To investigate or treat something in superficial or preliminary fashion.
See also: scratch, surface

on the surface

To all intents and purposes; to all outward appearances: a soldier who, on the surface, appeared brave and patriotic.
See also: on, surface
References in classic literature ?
Down, down went the mercury until it stood as low as it had seven miles from the surface of the earth, and then of a sudden the realization broke upon us that death was very near.
Were its people as relatively diminutive as their little world, or were they as disproportionately huge as the lesser attraction of gravity upon the surface of their globe would permit of their being?
As I watched it, I saw that it was revolving upon an axis that lay parallel to the surface of Pellucidar, so that during each revolution its entire surface was once ex-posed to the world below and once bathed in the heat of the great sun above.
As the ape-man reached the surface he saw the heads of two great crocodiles but a short distance from him.
After swimming a short distance beneath the surface the girl rose and looked about her.
When she came to the surface again it was to find herself as far from shore as she had been when she first quitted the prahu, but the craft was now circling far below her, and she set out once again to retrace her way toward the inky mass of shore line which loomed apparently near and yet, as she knew, was some considerable distance from her.
Once was enough, for, evidently finding no life in the smooth cloth surface of the machine, it ceased soaring and straightened out on its eastward course.
But this time he quickly shook out a portion of his reefed sustaining surface and slowed down in time.
They also undertook to examine the true nature of that system of parallel ramparts discovered on the moon's surface by Gruithuysen, a learned professor of Munich, who considered them to be "a system of fortifications thrown up by the Selenitic engineers.
Yes, the moon, on whose surface objects weigh six times less than on the earth, a phenomenon easy to prove.
Evidently, as two hundred pounds will only weigh thirty pounds on the surface of the moon.
We must suppose the Melipona to arrange her cells in level layers, as she already does her cylindrical cells; and we must further suppose, and this is the greatest difficulty, that she can somehow judge accurately at what distance to stand from her fellow-labourers when several are making their spheres; but she is already so far enabled to judge of distance, that she always describes her spheres so as to intersect largely; and then she unites the points of intersection by perfectly flat surfaces.
I may also mention, that having used the net during one night, I allowed it to become partially dry, and having occasion twelve hours afterwards to employ it again, I found the whole surface sparkled as brightly as when first taken out of the water.
Paddling over it, you may see, many feet beneath the surface, the schools of perch and shiners, perhaps only an inch long, yet the former easily distinguished by their transverse bars, and you think that they must be ascetic fish that find a subsistence there.
Following the memorandum as our guide, we next laid my stick in the necessary direction, as neatly as we could, on the uneven surface of the rocks.