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I am looking for a word that would describe being obsessed with the details of a larger entity such that the "looker" neglects to see the whole or (perhaps more importantly) the purpose of the whole.

Basically, "not seeing the big picture".

What can [more] succinctly describe this?

Edit: I just found this post: An adjective for "able to see the big picture". I think I want the exact opposite.

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You want a single word for "can't see the wood for the trees?" Hmm... – user867 Dec 13 '13 at 3:29
If there were a word, why would the idiom have been invented in the first place? Seriously. There's no such word. – Kris Dec 13 '13 at 6:52
@Kris It's also possible that there is a word, and you just don't know it. For example, you haven't provided an answer. – Josh Dec 15 '13 at 23:37
"A single word for “not seeing the big picture”" - Republican, lol. – Daniel Stowers Nov 16 '15 at 1:54
up vote 16 down vote accepted

How about myopic, which means short-sighted and therefore, both literally and figuratively not able to see the big picture?

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That's about distance, not width, Ha! – Kris Dec 13 '13 at 6:51
@Kris Perhaps I did not phrase the question properly, and Brad's answer does not seem to be an adequate answer to some readers such as yourself, but this was exactly the word I was looking for. – Josh Dec 15 '13 at 23:35
@Kris, If a person is myopic, they are forced to focus at the up close. While focusing on a near object, one loses sight of those things in the periphery. This is the perfect answer for both literal and figurative short-sightedness. (Of course, "short-sighted" works too, especially if you are unsure if your audience will understand "myopic") – TecBrat Jan 24 '14 at 15:00

Shortsighted, tunnel-vision, hyper-focused, myopic, or unimaginative can all apply to this. As well as detail-oriented, anal, drudgeon, or dullard.

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How about "blinkered" (when a horse if forced to only see what is in front of them).

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What about omphalocentric, i.e. navel-gazing?

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I like that. Not a word I'd ever use, but a good word to know :) – toryan Dec 27 '13 at 0:46


It depends on the context, but you could use it to refer to an approach that does not consider a holistic way.

Which means: characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.

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parochial and its synonyms

Collins English Dictionary

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