What would be an idiom for solving a massive problem and then only getting hindered by a small problem?

So after solving a hard problem, getting stopped by the easy problem.

It would not be: out of the frying pan (and) into the fire. Because it means: from a bad situation to a worse situation.

| improve this question | | | | |
  • 1
    Surely any problem that stops you can not be called small. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 24 '15 at 23:52
  • It sounds like you are looking for something that would mean, "Out of the fire and into the frying pan." I suppose you could use that. – J.R. Jan 25 '15 at 0:07
  • 1
    These aren't real as far as I know but their gist might help lead you to one that is: "forgetting the minus sign," "missing the extra point," (or rather "three-putting for a four" in England), or "forgetting/failing to hit the save button." – Papa Poule Jan 25 '15 at 2:02
  • 1
    "missing the extra point" +1 Papa Poule! How timely and apt. – user98990 Jan 25 '15 at 3:01

Well, there’s a venerable English proverb that warns, “The Devil is in the detail.”

The idiom "the devil is in the detail" refers to a catch or mysterious element hidden in the details, and derives from the earlier phrase "God is in the detail" expressing the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly; i.e. details are important.


And, the wiseGEEK, has this to say:

The slang term “the devil is in the detail” has a number of different senses. All of the meanings for the term boil down to the fact that it is often the small details of something which make it difficult or challenging. These details can prolong a task, or foil an otherwise straightforward dealing. Like many proverbs which involve the devil, it is meant to sound a note of caution. It may also be used to excuse or explain the obfuscation of an otherwise very simple project or task.


Often this expression is used when a project has fallen short of what one would expect (such as a poem whose themes and rhyme schemes are tight but whose rhythm is still off meter) or as a reminder that paying attention to critical details enables the final product to achieve a desired level of "quality".

| improve this answer | | | | |

In the same general area — though they are not precise matches for your desired expression — are:

  • taking one's success for granted
  • overreaching oneself
  • biting off more than one can chew
  • being over-confident
  • becoming too complacent
| improve this answer | | | | |

Something like this?

Swam across a stormy ocean only to be held up by traffic two blocks from home.

| improve this answer | | | | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.