to scratch the surface

Idiom Definition

Idiom Definition - scratch the surface

"to scratch the surface"

to examine only the superficial aspects of something;

to just begin to find out about something


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - scratch the surface

Two colleagues are talking ...

Colleague 1: Instituting a customer loyalty program was a really good idea. The data we have collected is extremely useful. We can send birthday greetings on customers' birthdays. We can track when their products might need renewal and repair.

Colleague 2: And that is just scratching the surface. There are so many other possibilities if we mine the data correctly. For instance, we could start relating timing and product purchase to the progression of our customers' lives.

Colleague 1: I agree that there is a great deal of potential that we can't even see yet.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - scratch the surface

Two friends are talking ...

Friend 1: Welcome back. How was your trip to Japan?

Friend 2: It was hectic. I barely scratched the surface of everything there was to do and see. Ten days is really not enough time. There is so much interesting culture, history and so very many sites to see that two months might have been enough to start to get a small understanding of Japan.

Friend 1: Maybe you can go back sometime.

Test Your Understanding  

to scratch the surface - Usage:


Usage Frequency Index:   2,043   click for frequency by country

to scratch the surface - Gerund Form:

Scratching the surface, her initial, cursory inspection of the document caused her to believe that further study was in order.

to scratch the surface - Examples:

1)  ... except that there's just so damn much of it that he can't even scratch the surface of everything that he has to rewrite about himself. 

2)  Experiences like this cause you to realize that we are only just starting to scratch the surface of using our voices to interact with personal computers.

3)  ... have to do with the behind-the-scenes world of restaurants-but, unfortunately, these glimpses only scratch the surface.

4)  We are only just beginning to scratch the surface of the improvements that technology can bring to our lives.

5)  ... show so meticulously crafted and executed that it would take me a dozen reviews to scratch the surface of what makes it great. 

6)  You can spend all day on and not even scratch the surface.

7)  ... one has to put in a fair amount of time before one does more than scratch the surface on the Riemann Hypothesis.

8)  It's a rich topic and these essays barely scratch the surface.

9)  I know people who call themselves liberal and vote Democrat, but if you scratch the surface, they're pretty conservative.

10)  ... mysterious and far-ranging in their scope that no one yet has done much more than scratch the surface of the treasures within them, let alone fully grasp them.

11)  ... catalyzed by the women's movements of the 60s and 70s, had only but scratched the surface of our possibility, power and potential as women.

12)  As far as your own views go, however, we only have scratched the surface. In a sense, we have seen maybe 10 percent of you ...

13)  ... Canada, it seems in whatever time you've spent here, you have only scratched the surface of its culture, and in doing so, missed a very rich ...

14)  You haven't even scratched the surface. You really sound like one of those instant gratification types.

15)  Do you want me to go on? I've barely scratched the surface of bad things that can happen due to pregnancy. 

16)  This has become a topical issue and people are scratching the surface without knowing a damn thing about the person.

17)  HopeMob is just a baby and we are only scratching the surface of the change we hope to bring to the world!

18)  With all the amazing knowledge we have gained, it seems we are really just scratching the surface. This is why I suspect it will take thousands or perhaps millions ...

19)  There's tons more data in this report -- I'm barely scratching the surface.

20)  ... depth to be able to come up with new ideas. If you are only scratching the surface, it is pretty hard to understand the underlying problems.