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 24, 2012
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 5, 2010
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 29, 2016
When a person focuses too much on small detail (trees), and misses the big picture (forest).
Stressed out person on vacation: "we have to awake at 4:00am, eat breakfast at 5:00am, goto the tour at 6:00am, arrive at the park 1 hour later, buy this, see that, go here, go there... are you writing this down!"

me: "how about, I'm on vacation, I'll be resting and meet you for lunch."

me behind the other person's back: "yikes, that person Can't see the forest through the trees."
by johncoleman83 March 17, 2017
This term means someone is so simple minded that they can't figure out the simplest problems. Their minds are like great big empty voids of any kind of logical thought. This is why even though the can see the trees their simple minds can't grasp that's the forest.
Ray : Did you see that guy trying to change his flat tire, it took him an at least an hour.

Tony :That guy can't see the forest through the trees.
by TV CAR March 30, 2010