What is an idiom that describes the following:

the way a person may draw a certain conclusion regarding a topic based on a small (non-representative) part of it; implying that the assumption is inaccurate, unfair, and based on insignificant details.

My friends and I were discussing the popularity of Japanese anime, whereby one described it as something horrendous based on the one or two she's seen.

Given, anime is a style of film with thousands of unique series, I made it a point that the few that she watched aren't definitive. ]

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    jumping to conclusions; hasty generalization, fallacy of insufficient/unrepresentative sample. Baseball people call it "SSS" (small sample size) error. Oct 12, 2015 at 3:28

4 Answers 4


Your friend was extrapolating:

to project, extend, or expand (known data or experience) into an area not known or experienced so as to arrive at a usually conjectural knowledge of the unknown area - extrapolates present trends to construct an image of the future ( -- Merriam-Webster)

You can now argue that it was an unreasonable or unreliable extrapolation.

To see consumption as such a 'structuring system', which is precisely what Baudrillard's conception involves, does not then, rely on some kind of unreasonable extrapolation from cases such as 'saying it with flowers'. (-- from Consumer Society and the Post-Modern City by David B Clarke, p.59)


"Make a hasty conclusion" can match the example sentence. Hasty has the following meaning in Merriam-Webster:

fast and typically superficial

made a hasty examination of the wound

Superficial is the right adjective to describe:

concerned only with what is obvious or apparent : not thorough or complete

affecting only the outer part or surface of something : not deep or serious

Jump/leap to conclusion can be also considered.


You might refer to her as a blind man describing an elephant.

In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement.

Your friend has seen part of the art and has made conclusions as if she has seen all of it in the same way that the blind men made conclusions about the elephant after observing only a part of it.


Consider the idiom scratch (or skim) the surface.

scratch the surface: deal with a matter only in the most superficial way (OED)

If you think YouTube features some of the oddest, most obscure videos and home movies you've ever seen, you're only scratching the surface. (My Informs)

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