can't see the forest for the trees

Idioms & Phrases

can't see the forest for the trees

Also, can't see the wood for the trees. Focus only on small details and fail to understand larger plans or principles, as in Alex argues about petty cash and overlooks the budgethe can't see the forest for the trees. This expression was already a proverb in John Heywood's 1546 collection.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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