Definition of scratch the surface in US English:

scratch the surface


  • 1Deal with a matter only in the most superficial way.

    ‘research has only scratched the surface of the paranormal’
    • ‘Yet, so far, it seems Stanford has only begun to scratch the surface in terms of its programmatic and curricular activities on matters Indian.’
    • ‘Yet even as he was speaking, aid agencies were warning the deal would only scratch the surface.’
    • ‘We are only scratching the surface by helping these 350 tortoises, but it is far better that they are in experienced hands than in the hands of smugglers.’
    • ‘Without an understanding of the experiential learning process, the surface of knowledge and learning are only scratched.’
    • ‘Having been here only 9 months I am still only scratching the surface and finding many delights are hidden below the superficial facade.’
    • ‘The U.N. has introduced a new mechanism for Afghanistan to deal with this latter problem, but it only scratches the surface of what is really required.’
    • ‘This is only scratching the surface - there are literally hundreds more one could list, but these are some of the ones I deem most significant for the reasons given.’
    • ‘As a matter of fact, most so called health nuts don't even scratch the surface of healthy living anyway, no matter how much they can bench press.’
    • ‘In the space allotted for this article, I can scratch only the surface of each profiled editor.’
    • ‘If I well understood the spirit of the article, both Romanians and Bulgarians should go deeper than scratching on surface in knowing each other.’
  • 2Initiate the briefest investigation to discover something concealed.

    ‘they have a boring image but scratch the surface and it's fascinating’
    • ‘I believe we're just scratching the surface in our investigation and a lot more will come out.’
    • ‘The Policing Board member commented: ‘We haven't even scratched the surface of sectarianism yet, nor are we tackling it in any strategic way.’’
    • ‘He felt that he wasn't even scratching the surface of animal trafficking, which is why he decided to join forces with other groups.’
    • ‘Just double underline that we are still scratching the surface, we have a long way to go.’
    • ‘Over all the years, science has made more and more discoveries - yet still hasn't scratched the surface of nature's wonders.’
    • ‘Miller said: ‘We haven't even scratched the surface of what we can do with an ear of corn.’’
    • ‘It is obvious that this figure only scratches the surface of movie piracy when a five year old can download the latest Teletubbies movie over the Internet.’
    • ‘Now police fear the investigation has only scratched at the surface of the problem.’
    • ‘We're scratching at the surface of his character here.’
    • ‘As reporters, journalists in Australia and England and I were to detail over the next year, that initial series only scratched the surface.’