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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.

5
  • You want a single word for "can't see the wood for the trees?" Hmm...
    – user867
    Dec 13, 2013 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, 2013 at 6:52
  • 2
    @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, 2013 at 23:37
  • 1
    "A single word for “not seeing the big picture”" - Republican, lol. Nov 16, 2015 at 1:54
  • narrow minded, comes to mind. (Ha ha to Daniel. :)]
    – Lambie
    Apr 18 at 15:06

10 Answers 10

19

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, 2013 at 6:51
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    @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, 2013 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, 2014 at 15:00
8

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

4

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

4

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, 2013 at 0:46
0

Unholistic

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.

0

parochial and its synonyms

Collins English Dictionary

0

Tunnel vision. That's when you get so focused on a single goal that you fail to see anything to your left or right. And that's all stuff that can easily derail your entire project.

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  • Note: the person who asked the question is looking for a single-word answer. Tunnel vision captures the idea of "not seeing the big picture" but doesn't satisfy the asker's request
    – Kanga_Roo
    Oct 23, 2018 at 17:54
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It depends on the context but I think one who is incapable of "seeing the big picture or understanding the entirety of a situation may be considered Obtuse.

ob·tuse /əbˈt(y)o͞os,äbˈt(y)o͞os/Submit adjective adjective: obtuse 1. annoyingly insensitive or slow to understand. "he wondered if the doctor was being deliberately obtuse" synonyms: stupid, dull, slow-witted, slow, dull-witted, unintelligent, witless, half-baked, halfwitted, doltish, lumpish, blockish, imperceptive; More ant

0

You might say 'one-eyed', which is used similarly to 'myopic'.

lacking breadth of vision : narrow in outlook

-1

not seeing the big picture is "gestalt challenged." :)

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  • 1
    We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.
    – NVZ
    Sep 28, 2016 at 14:16

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