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It means that if you look at things one at a time, you might not realize that a branch of separate "trees" go togehter to make a "forest"

When you are too close to a situation you need to step back and get a little perspective. When you do you will notice there was a whole forest you couldn't see before because you were too close, and focusing on the trees.
Simply that you have focused on the many details and have failed to see the overall view, impression or key point.
Example "can't see the forest for the trees"

He is so caught up in her affectation that he " cant see the forest for the trees"

He is to busy on the outside looking in that he cant see the forest for the trees.
by alberta rogerdena August 23, 2012
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May 17 Word of the Day
Briefly, "the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own." Originally from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, which has a lot more beautiful neologism definitions like this you might enjoy.
I felt deep sonder thinking about the all the people who looked up this word along with me.
by rednos January 10, 2013
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To be so concerned with specifics or details that the larger problem, situation or point is missed. Alternate: can't see the woods for the trees. Often said incorrectly as "can't see the forest THROUGH the trees." (English, circa 1500's)
A: I hate the piss and crap all over the place from my wife's cats!
B: Dude, she only has the cats because she knows you hate it and is trying to drive you out. I guess you can't see the forest for the trees.
by biggs33 October 05, 2010
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To become so caught up in the small details that you're unable to step back see what is going on or what will happen. Our take of reality gets bent as we are too involved.

Like when person is so focused on finding an error in day a book, that they didn't take the time to enjoy it for what it was; a story.

Another would be say a brother or siser begs you to hide them, acts nervous (you ignore this) They look out windows (you ignore this too) as you just want to catch up. They ask you to hide a knife .... a bloody knife ..

The trees fall away yet?
"Can't see the forest for the trees", Dan said.
by quietriver September 28, 2016
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