“にすぎない” vs “だけ” and “にかぎらない” vs “だけじゃない”

I am having difficulties to make sense of `にすぎない`, which is translated by EDICT to mean "no more than that; just; only". Is it not simply equivalent to `だけ`? Can I use `にすぎない` as substitute for `だけ`?

Also, since `かぎる` means "to be restricted", which is opposite of `すぎる` - "to go beyond", does it mean that `にすぎない` and `にかぎらない` are opposite of each other? Can I use `にかぎらない` as substitute for `だけじゃない`?

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I feel にすぎない and にかぎらない are more formal/academic than だけ and だけじゃない.

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So we are comparing:

1. ～にすぎない　vs.　～だけ (Test for equal)

2. ～にすぎない　vs.　～にかぎらない (Test for opposite)

3. ～にかぎらない vs.　～だけじゃない (Test for equal)

In 1. we have `not exceeding ~`　and `only ~`.

Lets say we have a number line from zero to ten.

`not exceeding 5` are "0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5".

`only 5` is "5".

So ~にすぎない is not equivalent to ~だけ.

In 2. we have　`not exceeding ~` and `not limited to ~`

Lets have a number line from zero to ten.

`not exceeding 5` are "0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5".

`not limited to 5` are "0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10"

(`limited to 5` are "0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5".)

Is `not exceeding ~` equal to the opposite of `not limited to ~`? Yes.

Is `not limited to ~` equal to the opposite of `not exceeding ~`? No.

Now lets have random data that has no order and unsorted. Lets say I have "A, Q, W, M, D, C, P"

`not exceeding M` makes no sense anymore.

`limited to M` is not "A, Q, W, M". It is instead just "M".

`not limited to M`　are "A, Q, W, M, D, C, P".

Is `not exceeding ~` equal to the opposite of `not limited to ~`? N/A.

Is `not limited to ~` equal to the opposite of `not exceeding ~`? N/A.

In 3. we have `not limited to ~` and `not only ~`

Lets have a number line from zero to ten.

`not limited to 5` are "0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10"

`not only 5` are "0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10"

Now lets have random data that has no order and unsorted. Lets say I have "A, Q, W, M, D, C, P"

`not limited to M`　are "A, Q, W, M, D, C, P".

`not only M`　are "A, Q, W, M, D, C, P".

So ~にかぎらない　is equal to ~だけじゃない

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Your analysis of ～にすぎない isn't really complete. You're doing a literal analysis, but ～にすぎない has another, slightly more figurative meaning. Like `彼の発言は冗談【じょうだん】にすぎないよ！そんなに怒らないで。` ("His comment was nothing more than a joke. Don't get so upset.")` In this sense, it's perfectly fine to substitute it with だけ (彼の発言は冗談だけだよ！), and in fact, my textbook defines this usage of ～にすぎない as `ただ〜だけだ`. – istrasci Oct 20 '11 at 14:25
@istrasci They can be substitutes, but that does not mean they are equal. For all intents and purposes as far as practical usage go they are reasonable substitutes as in your example. (I guess it's just me because I tend to be quite strict about the definition of "equal"). – Flaw Oct 20 '11 at 14:48
@istrasci `彼の発言は冗談だけだよ` does not mean what you intend. It can only mean 'he comments only jokes.' – user458 Oct 20 '11 at 23:59
@Flaw I appreciate your logical analysis of the expressions when used with numbers and quantities, but I'm more concerned with the usage with abstract concept like 冗談にすぎない example in istrasci's comment, and whether it's fine to replace だけ with にすぎない in sentences like 私が出来ることはこれだけです. p/s: I'm aware that しかない is sometimes a better replacement of だけ but can にすぎない even replace だけ at all? – Lukman Oct 22 '11 at 0:55
Are the phrases in question really in your active vocabulary? If so, I am afraid that I do not feel it from your explanation. – l'électeur Feb 19 '14 at 13:18