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scratch the surface

Definition of scratch the surface

  1. :  to deal with or learn about only a small part of something <There's so much to learn about this subject. I feel like I've only scratched the surface.>

Word by Word Definitions

  1. :  to scrape or dig with the claws or nails

    :  to rub and tear or mark the surface of with something sharp or jagged

    :  to scrape or rub lightly (as to relieve itching)

  1. :  a mark or injury produced by scratching

    :  a slight wound

    :  scrawl, scribble

  1. :  arranged or put together with little selection :  haphazard

    :  made as or used for a tentative effort

    :  made or done by chance and not as intended

  1. :  the exterior or upper boundary of an object or body

    :  a plane or curved two-dimensional locus of points (as the boundary of a three-dimensional region)

    :  the external or superficial aspect of something

  1. :  of, located on, or designed for use at the surface of something

    :  situated, transported, or employed on the surface of the earth

    :  appearing to be such on the surface only :  superficial

  1. :  to give a surface to: as

    :  to plane or make smooth

    :  to apply the surface layer to

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up scratch the surface? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


of, relating to, or near a shore

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