In some subjects it is easy to learn a small amount about it, but hard, or time consuming, to learn everything about it. Chess for instance, one can learn how the pieces move around in a few minutes. Learning some basic tactics in an hour or two. An opening in a day. Pretty quickly they'll get to a point where each new step takes weeks or months to really understand and apply.

A more generic way to look at it would be "the law of diminishing returns as applied to learning". This however is overly fatalistic for encouraging conversation. Is there an idiom that describes this sensation? Perhaps an apropos quote?

2 Answers 2


You could say it has a steep learning curve or, more accurately, a learning curve that gets steeper as you go.

  • I agree with this answer. I think you might improve it if you could cite a reference to steep learning curve.
    – rajah9
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 15:39

Ecclesiastes 12:12b is relevant:

  • [Be warned:] People never stop writing books and too much study will wear you out.

[GOD'S WORD® Translation & CEV; BibleHub]

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