win the battle, but lose the war

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win the battle, but lose the war

To achieve a minor success or victory, but lose or fail to achieve a larger, more important, or overarching goal, especially when that larger failure is at least partly due to the smaller victory. The phrase is often split into two halves across different parts of a sentence to achieve its meaning. The government has won the battle against corporate tax evasions, but it's losing the war, because many companies have started relocating in other countries. They may have won the battle for possession of the ball, but if they can't translate that into touchdowns, they'll lose the war.
See also: but, lose, war, win

win the battle, but lose the war

If you win the battle, but lose the war, you achieve a small thing but in achieving that, lose or fail to get something which is more important. The strikers may have won the battle, but they lost the war. Note: You can also say that you lose the battle, but win the war, meaning the opposite. Betty Hyde may have lost the battle, but she won the war and took her business to another bank.
See also: but, lose, war, win